The global cost of eliminating avoidable blindness

Indian J Ophthalmol. 2012 Sep-Oct;60(5):475-80. doi: 10.4103/0301-4738.100554.


Aims: To complete an initial estimate of the global cost of eliminating avoidable blindness, including the investment required to build ongoing primary and secondary health care systems, as well as to eliminate the 'backlog' of avoidable blindness. This analysis also seeks to understand and articulate where key data limitations lie.

Materials and methods: Data were collected in line with a global estimation approach, including separate costing frameworks for the primary and secondary care sectors, and the treatment of backlog.

Results: The global direct health cost to eliminate avoidable blindness over a 10-year period from 2011 to 2020 is estimated at $632 billion per year (2009 US$). As countries already spend $592 billion per annum on eye health, this represents additional investment of $397.8 billion over 10 years, which is $40 billion per year or $5.80 per person for each year between 2010 and 2020. This is concentrated in high-income nations, which require 68% of the investment but comprise 16% of the world's inhabitants. For all other regions, the additional investment required is $127 billion.

Conclusions: This costing estimate has identified that low- and middle-income countries require less than half the additional investment compared with high-income nations. Low- and middle-income countries comprise the greater investment proportion in secondary care whereas high-income countries require the majority of investment into the primary sector. However, there is a need to improve sector data. Investment in better data will have positive flow-on effects for the eye health sector.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Blindness / economics*
  • Blindness / prevention & control
  • Cost of Illness*
  • Delivery of Health Care / economics*
  • Global Health
  • Health Expenditures / trends*
  • Humans