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The number of blindnesses increases sharply - Many cases could be avoided
According to experts, vision problems and blindness will increase significantly in the future. The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) warns that after decades of declining numbers of cases, a significant increase in blindness can be expected in the future. In addition to the demographic development, factors such as smartphone use and working on the screen could also have an impact on development.
The IAPB warns in an up-to-date press release on the occasion of the "World Sight Day" that blindness is increasing more and more worldwide. The experts believe that the cases of avoidable vision loss in particular should be critically assessed. Medicine is at risk of being overwhelmed by the problems, "unless we act now," the IAPB concluded on the results of the "Eyesight Atlas", which was published in the specialist magazine "Lancet Global Health".
Millions of people with visual impairments
According to current results, 36 million blind people and 217 million people with moderate to severe visual impairment live worldwide. Of the 253 million people affected, 124 million have uncorrected ametropia and 65 million have a cataract, so that 75 percent of vision loss and visual impairment could be avoided, reports the IAPB. Because cataracts can be operated successfully and the ametropia remedied with technical means. According to the researchers, other common causes of vision loss are age-related macular degeneration and glaucoma (glaucoma).
Increase by 2020
The current evaluation also answers the question of whether the goal of the World Health Organization (WHO) - reducing avoidable vision loss by 25 percent by 2019 - can still be achieved. However, the experts do not assume this. Instead, the prevalence of avoidable visual impairments is expected to increase by 5.6 percent. In the long term, an even more dramatic increase in the number of people affected is forecast. Dr. Astrid Bonfield, executive director of the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, said in the latest announcement that the number of blind people will triple by 2050 due to the aging population, increasing diabetes and increased myopia.
New “era of blindness”
According to the IAPB experts, the world is facing a new “era of blindness” after decades of improvement. "We have made significant progress in reducing preventable blindness in recent years, but the new data in the Eyesight Atlas shows that we need to redouble our efforts to prevent the predicted increase in blindness and visual impairment," the researchers warned.
Positive development in the past decades
The prevalence of total vision loss and visual impairment has dropped from 4.58 percent in 1990 to 3.37 percent in 2015, according to the latest survey, but will continue to reverse in the coming decades. In addition, 89 percent of the visually impaired live in countries with low and middle incomes, where there is a correspondingly poorer care situation. In the future, however, the situation will not only worsen significantly in these countries, unless comprehensive countermeasures are initiated, the experts warn. (fp)