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Global blindness set to triple by 2050

03 August 2017 An elderly woman in Bangladesh has her eyes tested, A doctor covers one of her eyes while a nurse stands at a distance and holds up one finger.

Sightsavers has pledged to continue its work to tackle avoidable blindness after researchers revealed the number of blind people across the world is set to triple in the next four decades.

A report published in Lancet Global Health predicted that cases will rise from 36 million to 115 million by 2050 without better funding and increased access to eye care services.

The number of people going blind from infectious diseases such as trachoma has fallen in recent years, according to the study. However, there has been an increase in causes of blindness related to age and chronic disease because more people are living longer.

Sightsavers chief global technical lead Imran Khan said: “Even though the efforts from Sightsavers and our international partners have decreased the burden of blindness due to infectious causes, we are seeing an increase in conditions such as cataracts, which is the leading cause of blindness and develops primarily due to ageing. Similarly, we are seeing increases in uncorrected refractive error, the leading cause of visual impairment, which can be corrected with a pair of eye glasses.”

The world’s poorest countries, such as Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, are particularly affected by these conditions. The report calls for better investment in treatments, such as cataract surgery, and ensuring people have access to appropriate vision-correcting glasses.

Sightsavers continues to invest resources in these countries, and works with partners to improve health systems and train more surgeons and nurses to deliver sustainable eye health care.

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