Objectives: To evaluate the personal and community burdens of uncorrected presbyopia.
Methods: We used multiple population-based surveys to estimate the global presbyopia prevalence, the spectacle coverage rate for presbyopia, and the community perception of vision impairment caused by uncorrected presbyopia. For planning purposes, the data were extrapolated for the future using population projections extracted from the International Data Base of the US Census Bureau.
Results: It is estimated that there were 1.04 billion people globally with presbyopia in 2005, 517 million of whom had no spectacles or inadequate spectacles. Of these, 410 million were prevented from performing near tasks in the way they required. Vision impairment from uncorrected presbyopia predominantly exists (94%) in the developing world.
Conclusions: Uncorrected presbyopia causes widespread, avoidable vision impairment throughout the world. Alleviation of this problem requires a substantial increase in the number of personnel trained to deliver appropriate eye care together with the establishment of sustainable, affordable spectacle delivery systems in developing countries. In addition, given that people with presbyopia are at higher risk for permanently sight-threatening conditions such as glaucoma and diabetic eye disease, primary eye care should include refraction services as well as detection and appropriate referral for these and other such conditions.