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World Sight Day 2023: Avoidable sight loss costs US economy billions

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A groundbreaking study conducted by the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) and Kevin Frick, PhD, from Johns Hopkins University reveals that prioritizing better eye health could inject a staggering $50.4 billion annually into the US economy.

(Image Credit: AdobeStock)

(Image Credit: AdobeStock)

New research from a study conducted by the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) and Kevin Frick, PhD, from Johns Hopkins showed that better eye health would add $50.4 billion to the US economy each year.

In a press release provided to Ophthalmology Times by IAPB, it calculated the costs of avoidable sight loss in people over the age of 50 in the United States, where 12 million people over 40 live with visual impairment

IAPB, a global alliance of organizations working towards the elimination of avoidable blindness and vision impairment, is trying to promote comprehensive eye health care and advocate for the right to sight, ensuring that everyone has access to quality eye care services, regardless of their socioeconomic status or geographical location.

A report from the Lancet Global Health Commission showed that ~30% of people with sight loss experience a reduction in employment,1 while only 28% of civilian workers have access to vision care insurance in the US.2

In a press release provided to Ophthalmology Times by IAPB, a previous report by the organization and the International Labor Organization found that more than 13 million people globally live with work-related vision impairment, with 3.5 million eye injuries sustained at work every year.

Because of this, Prevent Blindness and the Love Your Eyes campaign are urging business leaders to put eye health on the workplace wellbeing agenda for World Sight Day.

The top 10 countries' financial burdens from sight loss:

  1. China - $96 billion USD
  2. United States - $50 billion USD
  3. India - $27 billion USD
  4. Japan – $20 billion USD
  5. Germany – $17 billion USD
  6. Italy – $13 billion USD
  7. United Kingdom – $12 billion USD
  8. Russia – $10.7 billion USD
  9. France – $10.3 billion USD
  10. Spain – $9 billion USD

The Lancet Global Health Commission on Global Eye Health also showed that sight loss costs the global economy $411 billion every year.

Peter Holland, CEO of IAPB and Love Your Eyes campaign spokesperson discussed the importance of eye health in the workplace in A groundbreaking study conducted by the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) and Kevin Frick, PhD, from Johns Hopkins University reveals that prioritizing better eye health could inject a staggering $50.4 billion annually into the US economythe press release from IAPB.

“Business leaders have played a vital role in raising awareness of workplace wellbeing, from mental health to menopause. World Sight Day is an opportunity for employers to add eye health to their wellbeing agenda and encourage workers to love their eyes, said Holland. “Our eyes are central to our ability to earn a living. Sight loss has a profound impact on one’s personal and professional life, with cataract and simply not having reading glasses among the leading causes of avoidable sight loss. Women, people in rural communities and ethnic minority groups are even more likely to experience sight loss and be excluded from employment and services. Whether it’s through eye health education, connecting employees with eye health services, adding eye health to insurance plans or adjusting screen settings, there are many ways to build a vision-friendly work environment and create healthier, happier workers.”

Jeff Todd, president and CEO of Prevent Blindness called on employers to provide benefits to their employees in the press release from IAPB as well.

“Unfortunately, access to quality eyecare is out of reach for many in the United States – even those may be fully employed – simply because they do not have health insurance, or their current plans do not cover vision services,” said Todd. “This World Sight Day, we call upon employers to examine the benefits they offer their employees, insurers to consider expanding their vision and eye health offerings, and federal and state policy makers to prioritize our nation’s eye health and safety in their healthcare policy actions.”

While the US sees approximately $50 billion in losses to the economy every year, China leads the world and faces nearly $96 billion a year, according to the study.

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