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HomeminewsStaggering World Cost of Vision Loss

Staggering World Cost of Vision Loss

AMD Alliance International (AMDAI) has released the first-ever estimates of global cost of vision loss – nearly USD$3 trillion dollars (AUD$3.4 trillion dollars) for the 733 million people living with low vision and blindness worldwide in 2010.

At its congress in Vienna recently, the organisation said these costs were set to rise dramatically through to 2020 unless effective prevention and treatment strategies are adopted worldwide. Current costs include direct health care expenditure, informal caregiver time, lost productivity and inefficiencies in raising tax revenue to fund health care.

AMD Alliance International is a non-profit coalition of the world’s leading vision, seniors and research organisations working to raise awareness of age-related macular degeneration, understanding of available options for prevention, early detection, treatment, rehabilitation and support services.

The burden of visual impairment highlighted in the report can be reduced through early implementation of national vision health plans which include effective prevention, treatment and low vision rehabilitation strategies. Vision advocates and blindness prevention experts at AMD Alliance International, and The World Blind Union, join together in making five key recommendations:

  • Frequent screening of people with diabetes and the elderly who are at higher risk of retinopathy, macular degeneration and glaucoma
  • Increased training in cataract surgery for doctors in developing regions
  • Greater availability of affordable eyewear to correct refractive error
  • Funding and distribution of medication to treat river blindness and trachoma in affected populations
  • Early treatment of childhood eye diseases, including cataract and glaucoma.

The report also looks at costs of vision loss associated with specific eye conditions. The AMDAI research reports the worldwide cost of visual impairment due to age-related macular degeneration (AMD) alone at USD$343 billion (AUD$385 billion) including USD$255 billion (AUD$287 billion) direct health care costs. AMD is said to contribute a greater proportion of the economic burden in developed countries where both life expectancy and health care costs are higher.

The study also estimated the global health burden of visual impairment using disability-adjusted life years (DALYs), the unit of measurement favoured by the World Health Organisation. It is reported that worldwide, people with visual impairment will be deprived of the equivalent of 118 million years of healthy life (DALYs) due to disability and premature death in 2010, with AMD the cause of six million of these DALYs. The report states that if current trends continue, this health burden will rise to 150 million DALYs in 2020.

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