World Report on Vision: a first of its kind

At least 2.2 billion people have vision impairment or blindness, of which over 1 billion cases could have been prevented or have yet to be addressed. The WHO has launched the first World report on Vision.
Mekonen Beyabeh and family Photo Credit Ulrich Eigner

We at Light for the World are excited about the groundbreaking report launched by the World Health Organization (WHO). Rupert Roniger, CEO of Light for the World, shares his thoughts with us below.

October 8th, 2019

This is the first-ever World Report on Vision. It matters because eye health deserves to be at the top of the global health agenda. This report shows the renowned World Health Organisation acknowledging just that. 

“In a world built on the ability to see, vision is vital at every turn of our lives.” 

General Dr Tedros - WHO Director

Photo of Greta

Still, eye conditions and vision impairment are widespread, and one billion people go untreated. There are many important new figures and evidence points present in the report. Globally, at least 2.2 billion people have a vision impairment, and of these, at least 1 billion people who have a vision impairment do not have access to services such as glasses and surgeries. In many cases, their visual impairment could have been prevented.

The report also highlights the massive funding gap: US$14.3 billion needed to address the backlog of 1 billion people living with vision impairment or blindness due to short and farsightedness and cataracts.


Image source: WHO

In fact, the problem is growing...

The report confirms international eye care needs are set to rise sharply in the future due to changes including population growth, lifestyle, aging, and urbanization. The increase in demand for services is set to increase more quickly than supply.

Image source: WHO

Unfortunately, the poorest and most marginalised – including people with disabilities – suffer the most. The report confirms, the burden is greatest in poorer countries and underserved populations including women, rural communities – and people with disabilities.

 Little boy with cataracts

“Eyecare goes beyond saving eyesight. It also includes the rehabilitation and the inclusion of those who lost their sight for a number of reasons.”

Yetnebersh Nigussie -Director of Advocacy and Rights

People in Africa have a particularly difficult situation.

Rates of blindness in low and middle-income regions of Africa are up to eight times higher compared to high-income countries of the world.

Rates of unaddressed near-sighted vision impairment are estimated to be greater than 80% in western, eastern and central sub-Saharan Africa; in comparison to lower than 10% in high-income regions of the world.

The way forward is clear

The WHO gives a concrete plan for what needs to be done next. Eye care needs to be ‘part and parcel’ of a country’s national health services if we are to achieve a lasting change for generations to come. 

The patient must be in the centre of any intervention; so each patient gets the help they need, at the highest possible quality, and inclusive of people with disabilities. 

Governments, experts, communities, corporates, foundations and civil society need to coordinate and scale up efforts and resources! These efforts must be brought closer to the communities in order for us to really reach the unreached. 

Light for the World and our partners fully support the WHO’s recommendations.

 5 recommendations made by WHO: 
WHO Recommendations

So… it’s time to act

The World Report on Vision is a landmark moment providing evidence and numbers where they were sorely needed. 

At Light for the World, we are proud to have contributed our experts’ time and resources to this report. Now is the time for us to come together and take action. We are urging governments, North & South to urgently put in resources and follow the recommendations of the WHO. 

We are redoubling our own efforts to save eyesight – especially women, children and people with disabilities -  in Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Mozambique and beyond— through human resource development and new initiatives in Child Eye Health, Cataracts, Glaucoma, Trachoma, and refractive errors. 

The alarming rise of eye health issues across the globe is reversible, but only if we act together – and we act now.

Please help us by spreading the word about this important report!

Read the first world report on vision by the World Health Organization by clicking on this link

 Rupert Roniger CEO of Light for the world
-Rupert Roniger
CEO of Light for the World International