The number of people going blind is projected to reach 115 million by 2050, largely due to a growing ageing population.

Researchers from the Anglia Ruskin University estimated there were 36 million blind people in 2015, from a global population of 7.33 billion.

If response to this problem does not improve, that number could triple in 35 years.

At the same time, the number of people with moderate to severe vision impairment not corrected by any device in 188 countries will reach 588 million by the same year from the present 217 million.

While the number of people with visual impairments is falling, the ageing population is growing, which could be responsible for the increase in sight problems.

“The growth and ageing of the world’s population is causing a substantial increase in the number of people affected. These observations, plus a very large contribution from uncorrected presbyopia, highlight the need to scale up vision impairment alleviation efforts at all levels,”  according to the researchers.

Many whose sight have been affected reside in South and East Asia, and parts of sub-Saharan Africa.

Researchers are calling for investments in cataract surgery, and vision-appropriate glasses.

“They are some of the most easily implemented interventions in developing regions. They are cheap, require little infrastructure and countries recover their costs as people enter back into the workforce,” said Professor Rupert Bourne.

The study was published in Lancet Global Health.

In the Philippines, there are 450,000 blind persons, with 62 percent of them due to cataract, according to the Philippine Academy of Ophthalmology. Other common causes of lost vision include corneal disease, diabetes, glaucoma, diabetes, and age-related macular degeneration.


During a World Health Assembly in 2013, WHO-member countries adopted a Universal Eye Health: a Global Action Plan 2014-2019 which aimed to reduce visual impairment as a global public health problem.

The global plan is aiming for 25 percent reduction in avoidable vision impairment by 2019. MIMS

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