Global eye care reevaluated

The WHO explored data to better understand treatment of refractive error globally

As part of World Sight Day, the World Health Organization (WHO) commissioned The Lancet Global Health to explore the quality and extent of treatment of visual issues due to refractive error in adults over 50 years old. This informed strategies for improvement of global treatment coverage by 2030, with targets to increase eye health coverage for refractive error by 40%. Only 43% of all adults over the age of 50 had received simple treatments for myopia, astigmatism, or moderate to severe hyperopia, while 21% of presbyopes had been treated.

Research, conducted by the Vision Loss Expert Group and led by Professor Rupert Bourne of Anglia Ruskin University and Cambridge University Hospitals, analysed data from 169 different studies from across the world to calculate figures in several defined regions for treatment coverage of distance and near refractive error. Global effective refractive error coverage (eREC) varied, with 79% treated in the ‘high income’ region; 62.1% in north Africa and Middle East; 49.5% in central Europe, eastern Europe, and central Asia; 40% in southeast Asia, east Asia, and Oceania; 34.5% in Latin America and the Caribbean, while Sub-Saharan Africa has the lowest at 5.7%.

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