A new study published in The Lancet Global Health estimates that blindness rates around the world will triple by the year 2050. Professor Rupert R.A. Bourne, MD, and a team of fellow researchers show that, as the population ages, blindness numbers will keep rising, especially in sub-Saharan African regions and South Asia.
Why Will Blindness Rates Triple By 2050?
In 1990, there were about 30.6 million people worldwide who were blind. This study found that, as of 2015, approximately 36 million people worldwide had lost their eyesight. This number is projected to rise to a staggering 115 million by 2050.
Currently, an estimated 188.5 million people worldwide suffer from mild forms of visual impairment. The vast majority (101.4 million) of these individuals were women. As the population ages, more of these people could potentially become blind.
Researchers also assert that health care systems in many developing countries are not equipped to handle the rising number of visual impairment cases and will need to consider investing in better treatment technologies and training more nurses and surgeons on how to deliver sustainable eye care.
Chronic diseases are on the rise, and fatalities from them were particularly high in developing countries. Cataracts and other forms of visual impairment are on the rise and have connections to various chronic illnesses, including autoimmune disorders such as Sjogren’s Syndrome.
As Bourne and his colleagues state in this study, the modest investments made in eye care have reaped some benefits. This includes being able to provide the visually impaired with better educational and employment opportunities, which they might otherwise have not been able to access or would have struggled to access. The research team encourages all regions to make treatment investments, especially those that are currently lagging behind. Doing so might help to slow the projected rates of blindness in the aging population.
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