Sustainable Development

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations are a worldwide call to action to create a healthier world for all people and the environment by 2030. The 17 Sustainable development goals recognises that actions in one area have an impact on outcomes in others.

Vision contributes significantly to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and crosses several of the sustainable development goals, including poverty reduction, economic development and employment, education, gender equality, and decreasing disparities.

As a result, nations must take a whole-of-government approach to vision and incorporate eye health in their national implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. 

On the 24th of February, the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) officially launched its Vision Atlas at a meeting of the United Nations Friends of Vision Group, which was addressed by H.E. Volkan Bozkir, President of the United Nations General Assembly, and structured by the UN Ambassadors from Antigua and Barbuda, Bangladesh, and Ireland. 

The Vision Atlas includes critical information from The Lancet Global Health Commission on Global Eye Health, as well as vital new estimates on the causes, size, and forecasts of vision loss from The Vision Loss Expert Group (VLEG). 

The following are the major messages from the Vision Atlas:

  • Vision loss affects 1.1 billion individuals worldwide, largely due to a lack of access to eye care.
  • Over 90% of people who are blind reside in low- and middle-income nations.
  • Above half of those who have visual loss are over the age of 50.
  • Women account for 55% of those who have visual loss.
  • By 2050, the number of persons with vision loss would have increased from 1.1 billion to 1.7 billion, owing to population expansion and ageing.
  • More than 90% of eyesight loss might have been avoided.


  • Uncorrected refractive error, which causes distant vision loss in 161 million individuals and close vision loss in another 510 million people, is the main cause of vision loss.
  • Untreated cataracts are the leading cause of visual loss in the United States, affecting 100 million individuals.
  • A total of 8.1 million, 7.8 million, and 4.4 million persons had visual loss due to age-related macular degeneration (AMD), glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy, respectively.
  • Other causes of eyesight loss affect 56 million people.
  • Poor eyesight causes a $411 billion loss in worldwide economic output each year if left untreated. 
  • Poor eye health increases the chance of death by up to 2.6 times.
  • Children with vision impairments are up to 5 times less likely to attend school and have lower academic performance.

By 2050, half of the world’s population (4.8 billion people) would require regular eye care to prevent and treat vision loss, according to estimates.

The IAPB’s Vision Atlas has a plethora of information for companies, eye hospitals, research centres, universities, policymakers, and non-governmental organisations. Given that so much vision loss is caused by injustice and lack of access for the most vulnerable members of our global community, the Vision Atlas is a valuable resource for those working to achieve universal health care and the Sustainable Development Goals. The debut in 2021 includes a diverse variety of data, narratives, and interactive presentation tools that make it simple to comprehend and convey complicated data sets to a wide range of consumers. 

The meeting featured senior UN figures such as Henrietta Fore, Executive Director of UNICEF, Stewart Simonson, Assistant-Director General, WHO, and Beate Andrees, Special Representative to the UN and Director of the International, in addition to Ambassador Walton Webson of Antigua and Barbuda, Ambassador Rabab Fatima of Bangladesh, and Ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason of Ireland.

IAPB Chief Executive Officer Peter Holland remarked on the introduction of the Vision Atlas and said that IAPB was happy to introduce the Vision Atlas at a special meeting of the United Nations Friends of Vision Group. The new data in the Vision Atlas is a valuable resource for the industry in terms of lobbying, planning, and academic research.

If the world is to meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, action on eyesight loss is critical. With the Vision Atlas, they hope to demonstrate in an approachable manner the influence that high-quality eye care can have on people’s lives. Allowing youngsters to benefit from school, assisting working individuals in maintaining their employment, and ensuring that elderly people may engage in their families and communities. 

A few more areas where health impacts the Sustainable Development Goals are

1) No poverty 

Low- and middle-income nations account for 90% of eyesight loss, with the poor and extreme poor being the most disadvantaged. Each year, vision loss costs the global economy $411 billion in lost productivity.

2) Zero Hunger 

Eye care may boost household income and reduce hunger: after cataract surgery, 46% of families moved up an income band. Zero hunger is one of the biggest goals in sustainable development. 

3) Good health and well

Poor vision can raise the chance of death by 2.6 times.

4) Quality education 

91 million youngsters suffer from visual problems yet lack access to the eye care they require. Glasses can cut your chances of failing a class by 44%. In low- and middle-income nations, children with visual loss are 2-5 times less likely to attend school.

5) Increased gender equity

Women and girls account for 55% of persons with visual loss.

6) Decent work and economic growth 

Providing glasses to employees can boost productivity by 22% in the office. Cataract surgery can raise per capita household spending by 88 percent.

7) Reduced inequalities

Poor eyesight disproportionately affects women, children, the elderly, people with disabilities, indigenous peoples, local communities, refugees, and internally displaced individuals and migrants. Over the age of 50, 73 percent of persons with visual loss.

8) Sustainable cities and communities

A cataract that has not been removed can raise the risk of a car accident by 2.5 times.

9) Climate action 

The health industry, which includes eye care, accounts for 4.4 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions and has significant environmental consequences. Climate change might potentially increase the frequency of eye diseases and affect the supply of eye care.

10) Partnership 

Without teamwork, a vision for everyone cannot be achieved.

Blindness and vision loss are serious worldwide issues that will only become worse unless we work together to make them a priority. The Vision Atlas provides all of the facts and data necessary for governments to see the value of investing in eye health in order to guarantee that their communities are productive and realise their full potential. We will not be able to meet the Sustainable Development Goals until we address access to eye care and, in particular, gender disparities.

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