Potential lost productivity resulting from the global burden of URE
By TST Smith
Additional author(s): KD Frick, BA Holden, TR Fricke, KS Naidoo
Publication: Bulletin World Health Organization

KEY POINTS

  • Uncorrected refractive error (URE) for distance vision has recently been highlighted as the main cause of low vision globally and the second leading cause of blindness after cataract.
  • Visual impairment (VI) resulting from URE, including blindness, affected 0.8 to 4.0% of the world’s population in 2007, with an estimated cost to the global economy of $268.8 billion.
  • The productivity loss estimates in this study suggest that the current burden of URE has a potentially greater impact on the global economy than all other preventable vision disorders.
  • URE is a preventable cause of VI and a priority in the WHO Vision 2020 initiative to eliminate avoidable blindness.

SUMMARY

Uncorrected refractive error (URE) for distance vision, including undercorrected refractive error in more economically developed countries, has recently been highlighted as the main cause of low vision globally and the second leading cause of blindness after cataract.

An estimated 153 million people had visual impairment (VI) from URE in 2004, and 8 million of them were blind. By applying previously presented prevalence data to the 2007 world population by country, we estimated that VI resulting from URE, including blindness, affected 0.8 to 4.0% of the world’s population in 2007, with an estimated cost to the global economy of $268.8 billion after PPP adjustment.

The productivity loss estimates in this study suggest that the current burden of URE has a potentially greater impact on the global economy than all other preventable vision disorders.

URE is a preventable cause of VI and a priority in the WHO Vision 2020 initiative to eliminate avoidable blindness. Although policy-makers will need to consider the potential economic productivity loss associated with URE within the broader framework of individual and societal costs, the estimates calculated in this study highlight the potential economic significance of this global burden.

Link: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2686211
Published in 2009

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