Sunday, May 31, 2020 | ePaper

Investment into Vision Care

Recovery could stem major economic losses

  • Print


Rebecca Root :
$244 billion is lost from the global economy each year because of problems with eyesight, according to a report led by researchers at the Brien Holden Vision Institute - but it could be rectified by investing $20 billion into better eye care, the authors said.
The report looked specifically at the problem of myopia, or nearsightedness, which affects 538 million people worldwide. The impairment can often be corrected with lenses or surgery but many people - particularly in East Asia, South Asia, and Southeast Asia regions - lack access to these services and are unable to work.
"The impact of vision impairment on lives can be substantial, including affecting employment, education, and social interaction," said Tim Fricke, one of the authors of the report in a press release.
Substantial funding could fill the gaps, Fricke said. Investing in the training of eye care practitioners in countries where there is a gap, funding graduate positions in clinics, and developing better infrastructure and human resources could mean more people are able to access treatment, resume work, and contribute to the economy, he said.
"This isn't throwing pairs of glasses out of an airplane and hoping they find the right person. It's about investing in the resources that are needed in order to deliver care on an ongoing and sustainable basis," Fricke explained in an interview with Devex. "You'd hope local governments, civil society, and private industry would invest in those places [with the worst level of vision impairment], but by definition, there's no resources in the places themselves to invest so international donors then become important."  
Lost productivity resulting from myopia-related vision impairment represents only part of the overall economic burden of vision impairment. Other vision issues - astigmatisms and far-sightedness - that can affect a person's ability to work and expenses related to eye examinations were not covered in the analysis.
Matthew Wheeler, vice president of strategy and communications at SEE International - a humanitarian organization providing medical, surgical, and educational services to restore sight and prevent blindness worldwide - said in an interview that while $20 billion was a large amount, it was a modest investment compared to what individuals could get back in increased productivity and quality of life.
"However, you need a broad base of support because it is a lot to ask for," he added.
Without the increased investment - which Wheeler said he was hopeful would come via individuals, private foundations, and corporations - tens of millions of people will be unnecessarily blind, he said.
"With the growing global population that's getting older, and population booms, the longer we wait to address the need, it's just going to grow and grow and we're going to get that much further behind," he said.
He called for the investment - if it were to come through - to also focus on training and capacity building of in-country ophthalmologists, but emphasized that organizations would need to be coordinated in their approach to avoid duplication.
(Rebecca Root is an Editorial Associate and Reporter at Devex).

More News For this Category

If plasma therapy is hopeful against Covid-19, experts should say so

MEDICAL experts have urged the government to undertake a national programme to expand the scope of providing plasma therapy for treating Covid-19 patients as the method has been gaining

Not only Libya, but many other countries also treat our migrant workers brutally

MEDIA reports on Saturday said Bangladesh government has sought justice from the internationally recognized Libyan government for the killing of 26 Bangladeshi nationals and the infliction of fatal injuries

If plasma therapy is hopeful against Covid-19, govt should ensure it for all

MEDICAL experts have urged the government to undertake a national programme to expand the scope of providing plasma therapy for treating Covid-19 patients as the method has been gaining traction

Stop our young people going to Libya

MEDIA report on Saturday said Bangladesh government has sought justice from the internationally recognized Libyan government for killing of 26 Bangladeshi nationals and fatal injury to 11 more in an

COVID Pandemic Distorted Practice Of Human Freedom

Md. Monirul Islam : As of May 30, 2020, a global total infected cases and deaths are counted for 58,28,159 and 3,61,549 respectively in 216 countries of the world, which indicates

Unimaginable Devastation World Leaders To Act Now To Avert

Samira Sadeque :Unless global leaders act now, the COVID-19 pandemic will cause unimaginable suffering and devastation around the world, the Secretary-General of the United Nations António Guterres said yesterday, May

Covid patients died in fire: We have no leadership

THE devastating fire that killed five patients in the Coronavirus Isolation Unit of United Hospital has exposed the poor conditions of treatment and hospital management. The Isolation Unit was

Arrangement is missing as new wave of outbreak looming

WE are afraid the nation is facing a new wave of infections from coronavirus pandemic shortly after Eid-ul-Fitr as the crowd of people returning to the city and elsewhere.

Debt Trap

Debt Trap

Farazi Azmal Hossain :China is accused of luring developing or underdeveloped countries to borrow money for infrastructure projects and later controlling them if they fail to pay off their

Primary Education

Primary Education

Md. Abdur Rahim :Children are sent to educational institutions to receive formal education. There are three stages of education i.e. primary, secondary and higher education. Primary education is