The magnitude and cost of global blindness: an increasing problem that can be alleviated

Am J Ophthalmol. 2003 Apr;135(4):471-6. doi: 10.1016/s0002-9394(02)02110-4.


Purpose: To identify the potential effect on global economic productivity of successful interventions, that are planned as part of the "VISION 2020-right to sight" initiative. The initiative aims to eliminate avoidable blindness.

Design: This study used economic and epidemiologic modeling.

Methods: Existing data and assumptions about blindness prevalence, national populations, gross domestic product (GDP) per capita, labor force participation, and unemployment rates were used to project the economic productivity loss associated with unaccommodated blindness.

Results: Without extra interventions, the global number of blind individuals would increase from 44 million in the year 2000 to 76 million in 2020. A successful VISION 2020 initiative would result in only 24 million blind in 2020 and lead to 429 million blind person-years avoided. A conservative estimate of the economic gain is $102 billion.

Conclusions: The VISION 2020 initiative has the potential to increase global economic productivity.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Blindness / economics*
  • Blindness / epidemiology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cost of Illness*
  • Developed Countries
  • Developing Countries
  • Economics
  • Global Health
  • Health Care Costs
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Biological
  • Models, Economic
  • Prevalence