Blindness is not a new issue; it has been a global concern for ages. If we are to rely on the stats, over 45 million people worldwide suffer from blindness. The number has significantly increased in the recent years. As per the research conducted in 2015; over 253 million people were diagnosed with visual impairment around the world. If we are to go deeper into the number, around 36 million were blind while the remaining suffered from visual impairment on a moderate to severe level.
The causes of blindness have been numerous, but one of the most significant is age. With age increases the possibility of eye conditions. Consequently, cases of visual impairment and total blindness are significant in older individuals. Depending on the stats, almost 80% of the above stated number belongs to the age group of 50 and older.
In addition, gender plays another key factor. Almost 55% of the number of cases of visual impairment are women. The fact that blindness has been significantly been diagnosed in women has several factors to blame. These can include longer life expectancy in women, lack of access to quality healthcare, owing to poor socio-economic and cultural conditions, most commonly found in third world countries and economically backward sections of the countries.
As per data, almost 89% of the patients who are visually impaired belong from poor economic sections of the world. These primarily include South Asia, South East Asia and East Asia where almost 62% of the population suffer from visual impairment. In contrast, five economically rich countries have only 11% people suffering from visual impairment.
So, what does the future hold for blindness? Would the picture get better or worse? As per research, the latter is the projected reality; for which the growing age is one factor to be the culprit. The already growing population would age swifter; contributing to increased cases of blindness. As per the stats, the number of people belonging to an age bracket of above 60 is expected to increase to 2.1 billion. Consequently, the increased number of cases of blindness by 2050 would be around 700 million.
The number anticipated here is sure shot dreadful, but what may come as a sigh of relief here is that over 80% of these numbers are cases of avoidable blindness. Some of the most pivotal causes of treatable blindness are trachoma, cataract, , river blindness, vitamin A deficiency and lack of low vision aid.
So, what is the solution here? The solutions are multiple and they all revolve around providing better healthcare and ensuring its proper access to the poor regions of the society. Thankfully, we have multiple foundations taking up the charge towards eliminating treatable blindness and making lives better. One such foundation is the Tej Kohli and Dr. Ruit’s foundation that has been working day in and day out to treat cataract blindness. They have already set up numerous outreach camps across poor economic sections of the world, particularly, in Nepal. The foundation is wholly funded by billionaire philanthropist Mr. Tej Kohli and led by the visionary ophthalmologist Dr. Sanduk Ruit. By 2030, they aim to cure over 5 million cases of blindness worldwide.