Number of people with vision disabilities to triple by 2050: Study

Europe, News, August 7 2017

New research from Anglia Ruskin University suggests by the middle of the century 115 million people worldwide could be blind, compared to 36 million people in 2015.

Woman with vision disability walking Vision disability as a result of ageing is said to be one of the main contributors to rising eye-sight problems in our growing elderly populations.

Researchers said action was need on a global, regional and country level to slow the acceleration of vision impairment.

The study, led by Professor Rupert Bourne and funded by the Brien Holden Vision Institute, analysed the prevalence of blindness and vision disability in 188 countries between 1990 and 2015.

Its findings revealed that 2.05 per cent of men and 2.79 per cent of women in the UK have moderate to severe eye sight problems, with 0.16 percent and 0.23 percent respectively being blind.

Researchers estimated that as ageing populations expand, prevalence rates could see an upturn by 2020.

They predict further increases in the number of cases by 2050 if treatment is not improved – with almost 115 million cases of blindness and 588 million people with moderate to severe vision impairment.

Professor Bourne, of Anglia Ruskin’s Vision and Eye Research Unit, said: “Even mild visual impairment can significantly impact a person’s life, for example reducing their independence in many countries as it often means people are barred from driving, as well as reducing educational and economic opportunities.

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“With the number of people with vision disability accelerating, we must take action to increase our current treatment efforts at global, regional and country levels.

“Investing in these treatments has previously reaped considerable benefits, including improved quality of life, and economic benefits as people remain in work.

“Interventions for vision disability provide some of the largest returns on investment, and are some of the most easily implemented interventions in developing regions because they are cheap, require little infrastructure and countries recover their costs as people enter back into the workforce.”

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