Crucial data released to guide efforts to tackle escalating rates of blindness

Crucial data released to guide efforts to tackle escalating rates of blindness

Today, on World Sight Day, important new data has been published to aid and inform efforts to tackle rising rates of blindness, as new research reveals that global blindness is set to triple by 2050. 

New data published today in the Lancet Global Health has highlighted that despite significant progress made to reduce the prevalence of blindness, an increasing ageing population, rising rates of diabetes and short-sightedness are all contributing to an escalation in the rate of blindness globally.

There are 253 million people in the world who are blind or visually impaired, yet 80% of all blindness is avoidable. Now more than ever, increased, cohesive efforts are required to prevent people from needlessly losing their sight.

The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust is therefore delighted that for the first time, comprehensive, current data has been brought together under the Vision Atlas by the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB). This important new resource pinpoints the prevalence of avoidable blindness in every country of the world, provides informed projections for the future and gives expert analysis on how best to tackle the leading causes of blindness and vision loss worldwide.

The Trust is working to fight three leading causes of blindness across the Commonwealth – blinding trachoma, the leading infectious cause of blindness; blindness causes by diabetes; and blindness in babies born prematurely. 90% of all blind people live in developing countries, and the Trust is also working to strengthen healthcare systems so that quality, affordable eye care is available to all those who need it.

The Vision Atlas will provide considerable practical value to eye care organisations, ministries of health and policy makers and help to ensure global efforts are efficient, targeted and provide sustainable improvements to eye care around the world.

Dr Astrid Bonfield CBE, Chief Executive of the Trust said,

The arrival of the Vision Atlas could not come at a more critical time. Despite the remarkable efforts taking place around the world to successfully treat or prevent over 90 million people from losing their sight in the last 25 years, blindness is on the rise at an alarming rate. When someone loses their sight, it is not just the individual who’s affected. They may no longer be able work, or support their family. Children caring for them may have to miss school, impacting their prospects for the future. Armed with this new data, the Vision Atlas can help us ensure that our efforts and resources are informed and focused. We know what we have to do to end avoidable blindness, so together, let’s make it a thing of the past.