Study to improve eye health and progress towards development goals
In 2020, 1.1 billion people were living with untreated visual impairment and this figure is expected to rise to 1.8 billion by 2050. Despite progress in recent years against certain infectious diseases, millions continue to live unnecessarily with visual impairment. visual impairment and blindness. 90% of people with these conditions live in low- and middle-income countries, and visual impairment disproportionately affects women, rural populations and ethnic minority groups.
The study and research was conducted as part of the Lancet Global Health Commission on Global Eye Health collaboration. A total of 226 studies were reported on the relationship between an eye health service and SDG-related outcomes or pathways. These services include cataract surgery, free cataract screening, eyeglass delivery, trichiasis surgery, rehabilitation services and rural community eye health volunteers.
Professor Matthew Burton, Director of ICEH at LSHTM, said: “Ocular health is often overlooked, but it is an important factor in improving overall health and quality of life. Our study, which is one of only two studies to examine the links between improvements in a specific area of health and the SDGs, demonstrates that eye health is a powerful enabler for sustainable development, both directly and indirectly.
“Currently, eye health does not feature in any of the many SDG targets and monitoring indicators. This study is part of a growing body of evidence that eye health policies should be integrated into education, the workplace and social services.Interventions, such as improving access to eyeglasses and cataract surgery, must be prioritized and given the financial support that a challenge of this magnitude deserves.
The authors found several direct links between eye health services and one or more of the seven SDGs, including:
- Better eye health reduces poverty (SDG 1) and improves productivity (SDG 8)
Numerous studies have shown that access to eye health interventions increases productivity, housing costs and household income. In the Philippines, for example, the per capita cost of cataract surgery has increased by 88% in one year.
- Better eye health improves overall health and well-being (SDG 3)
Additional reviews of this study carried out for the Commission show the link between visual impairment and mortality, falls, dementia, mental health problems, heart disease, respiratory disease and cancer.
- Better eye health improves educational outcomes (SDG 4)
Good vision is associated with better school results. Giving glasses can improve academic exam results, a study in China shows that giving glasses reduces the chance of failing a class by 44%.
- Better eye health advances equality (SDGs 5 and 10)
Interventions such as training and cataract surgery for rural community eye health volunteers can reduce gender inequities in attendance and treatment. Similarly, income equality has been improved through cataract surgery.
- Better eye health reduces road accidents (SDG 11)
It has been found that the incidence of cataract-related conflict is 2.5 times higher. Studies show that cataract surgery can reduce the risk of road and motor vehicle accidents.
A total of 27 studies reported that eye health services had a positive effect on the progress of one or more SDG targets, and indirect effects were proposed for all targets. Cataract surgery and eyeglasses were interventions with a large number of studies reporting beneficial effects on SDG.
The potential human impact of not including eye health among the SDG targets will not only affect individuals, but also communities as well as nations as a whole. Vision is a primary sense that enables people to live, work and contribute to communities to their full potential. It is urgent that the right vision be prioritized in the right way.
Her Excellency, Dr Aubrey Webson, Permanent Representative to the United Nations for Antigua and Barbuda and Chair of the United Nations Friends of Vision group, said: “No one should have to live with preventable blindness or disability. addressable visual in the 21st century, as we have proven low-cost solutions to meet these conditions. The SDGs represent the highest ambition of the global community, and it is time for eye health to be recognized as an integral part of that.