The Cost of Uncorrected Vision

I’m sure you already know this story: what does a driver who has just gone through a red traffic light immediately say to the police man who has stopped them? « I didn’t SEE it ». Of course, among these drivers, you’ll find some liars, but there are also a great number of them who tell the truth: they did not see the red light. Do they have glasses and never wear them, or do they just ignore that they have bad vision? This kind of situation can cause terrible accidents, with huge costs to society.

Some appalling figures show that impaired vision has a cost. First, consider jobs where excellent vision is a required necessity: surgeons who often hold your life in their hands; cashiers, already disturbed by ambient noise, who can be blamed for check-out mistakes; nurses, whose vigilance is a must when administering the right drug, at the right dose, at the right time to the right person. The traffic controllers, train or plane pilots, building workers, teachers, referees, school bus drivers, beauticians…Unfortunately, this can be an endless inventory, and the consequences of vision impairment are heavy costs for all of us.

60% of mankind need vision correction. Compared to the world population (7 billion), 4,2 billion need vision correction with 2,5 billions people simply not corrected. One third of workers, children, seniors, and drivers are directly affected by this disability.

Globally, the estimated loss of productivity in the world because of uncorrected visual defects amounts to 269 billion dollars per year. Terrible and staggering.

An Italian study shows that in 2007, 60% of vehicle accidents are related to poorly corrected vision. In this example, cost is estimated to be 13 billion euros in this one European country.

An Australian study showed recently that the direct cost of poor vision reached 1 billon dollars, much higher than those costs associated to heart attacks, nervous breakdowns, diabetes and even cancer.

Daily, facts and figures bring us irrefutable evidence.

In Germany, people have to be corrected (if they need it) and must pass visual tests to be able to get their driving licence. Is it a coïncidence, in this country that puts the quality of its products foremost, Germany has a clear advantage in competitiveness? We should expect to expand this excellence initiative to all the European countries. Brussels would be well advised to look twice…and our governments too! The Vision Impact Institute will continue to bridge the gap of ignorance, pointing out the data gaps, and encouraging, collecting and disseminating new studies. We want to promote proven, accessible and simple solutions. This is the mission of the Vision Impact Institute.

Jean-Félix Biosse-Duplan

President of the Vision Impact Institute.