World Vision Report | 12 Oct 2019

Recently to mark the occasion of World Sight Day, the World Health Organization (WHO) released its first World Vision Report.

  • The report proposed ways to address challenges such as integrating eye care into healthcare systems that can help in drastically reducing the burden of preventable eye diseases.
    • The report found that globally, over 2.2 billion people have some form of vision impairment. Out of these 2.2 billion, 1 billion people are suffering from conditions that are preventable.
  • According to the report, the burden of eye conditions and vision impairment is not borne equally: it is often far greater in people living in rural areas, those with low incomes, women, older people, people with disabilities, ethnic minorities and indigenous populations.
    • Low and middle-income regions of western and eastern sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia have rates of blindness that are eight times higher than in high-income countries.
    • The age-specific prevalence of distance vision impairment in an urban population of Delhi (20% prevalence amongst 60-69 years old) was one-third lower than that of a rural population in Northern India (28%).
  • The report warned that the ageing population would lead to a dramatic increase in the number of people with vision impairment and blindness.
    • Presbyopia (a condition in which it is difficult to see nearby objects), affects 1.8 billion people. This condition occurs with advancing age.
    • The common refractive error -myopia (a condition in which it is difficult to see objects at a particular distance) affects 2.6 billion, with 312 million being under the age of 19 years.
    • Trachoma- an eye disease that is caused due to bacterial infection in the eye. Many countries have eliminated it including India.
  • Vision impairment also caused productivity loss and economic burden.
    • The economic burden of uncorrected myopia in the regions of East Asia, South Asia, and South-East Asia were reported to be more than twice that of other regions and equivalent to more than 1% of gross domestic product.
  • The report also highlighted that in India the rate of cataract surgery has increased nine-fold (6,000 per million population) between 1981 and 2012.
    • This has been possible because of the National Programme for Control of Blindness, under which cataract surgeries were performed on 6.5 million people alone in the year 2016-2017.
      • In addition to it, a total of 1.5 million management/ treatment procedures were performed for other eye conditions. As a result of these concerted efforts, there was an overall reduction in the prevalence of blindness that was reported as 1.1% in 2001-02 to 0.45% during the years 2015-18.

National Programme for Control of Blindness and Visual Impairment (NPCB&VI)

  • It was launched in the year 1976 as a 100% centrally sponsored scheme (now 60:40 in all states and 90:10 in NE States) by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.
  • The goal of this programme was to reduce the prevalence of blindness to 0.3% by 2020.
    • NPCB aimed to provide for ‘Eye Health for All’ and prevention of visual impairment, through the provision of comprehensive universal eye-care services and quality service delivery.

Way Forward

  • According to the World Report on Vision, integrated people-centered eye care has the potential to accelerate action and overcome the challenges. To make it a reality, the report recommends the following actions:
    • Make eye care an integral part of universal health coverage.
    • Promote high-quality implementation and health systems research, complementing existing evidence for effective eye care interventions.
    • Monitor trends and evaluate progress towards implementing integrated people-centered eye care.
    • Raise awareness and engage and empower people and communities about eye care needs.

Source: IE