The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that over 600 million people in the developing world are vision impaired. Most have little or no access to eye care or eyeglasses. As a result, work productivity, quality of life, health, education and safety impacts are enormous.
The WHO highlights the following facts:
- The global economic cost of lost work productivity due to people with poor vision has been estimated at 700 billion dollars a year.
- Refractive error, which eyeglasses correct, is the number one cause of vision impairment in the world.
- It is also the second greatest cause of preventable blindness.
- 6 out of 10 people in the developed world wear glasses, contact lenses, or have had corrective eye surgery.
- 6 out of 10 people in the developing world are also vision impaired, but have little or no access to eye care or eyeglasses.
- In North America, the ratio of optometrists to people is approximately 1: 6k.
- In sub-Saharan Africa, the ratio of optometrists to people is approximately 1: 8 million.
- In Malawi, Africa, one of the poorest countries on earth, the ratio of ophthalmologists (surgeons able to perform cataract surgery) to people is 4: 15 million.
Depending on their degree of vision impairment, daily tasks are more difficult, accidents more frequent, even life expectancies are shorter. Holding a job, finding enough food, learning how to read, and looking after a family may be impossibilities. Good eyesight is essential since it affects every aspect of our lives when awake. Hundreds of millions of people in the developing world who need glasses don’t have them. Poor eyesight for them can mean the difference between working and not working, gathering enough food or going hungry, being able to read or remaining illiterate.
Healthcare measurements adopted by the WHO show that, unless the problem of uncorrected refractive error in the developing world is addressed, by 2030 refractive error is set to surpass HIV/AIDS as one of the top ten health issues affecting opportunities and work productivity.
In case you don't know, you may need glasses because of one or more of these benign eye conditions:
- myopia (nearsightedness) - when you have difficulty seeing things in the distance
- hyperopia (long sightedness) - when you have difficulty focussing on close objects for long periods
- presbyopia - when you can't focus on close objects any more due to aging and glasses to help you read and the need to squint at everything to make it clearer is called astigmatism.
I'm often confronted in my visits to schools with the notions that learners don't grasp the curriculum content or require extra time to master various aspects of the curriculum or are incapable of attaining good marks. I'm often left wondering if educators are paying sufficient attention to how learners are engaging the curriculum during lessons, whether the methodology being used appeals to the individual learning style of learners or if simply, they've noticed the squinting in a learner, the incorrect recording of information from blackboards and that just possibly, the problem is learners can't see properly.
Information sourced from: