NIHR contributes to major Lancet Commission on Global Eye Health

A newly published report in The Lancet Global Health journal sets out the huge unmet needs in eye care around the world, which by 2050 will see 1.8 billion people living with untreated vision impairment. Crucially, more than 90% of these cases are preventable or treatable, highlighting the dramatic potential to improve lives and livelihoods. By tackling the barriers to treatments in low- and middle-income countries using existing, cost-effective interventions, the report estimates the boost to global economic output would be almost £300 billion a year – as well improving quality of life for millions of people.

A key finding of the report is that addressing avoidable vision loss and helping people with permanent vision loss access education and employment are crucial in achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. It will also lead to better outcomes for groups who have higher than average rates of vision loss and less access to treatment, including women and girls and rural populations. For the latter, the report sets out how emerging technologies such telemedicine, smartphones and artificial intelligence could transform the provision of eye health services in poorer countries.

Hand holding a pair of glasses up to the sky, with sunset in the background

The report, entitled The Lancet Global Health Commission on Global Eye Health: vision beyond 2020, was produced by a Lancet Commission made up of 73 researchers from around the world. These include five researchers supported by NIHR Moorfields Biomedical Research Centre at Moorfields and UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, including Lancet Commission co-Chair Professor Matthew Burton, as well as Professor Alastair Denniston, Pearse Keane, Professor Sir Peng Tee Khaw and Richard Wormald. You can read more about the contributions they made to the report on the Moorfields Eye Hospital website.

The Commission was part-funded by Moorfields Eye Charity with support from NIHR Moorfields Biomedical Research Centre.

The key recommendations of the report are for governments to:

– Ensure eye health is included in overall healthcare planning, and is properly financed

– Make use of new technologies to aid diagnosis and maximise efficiency of existing treatments

– Train more eye health professionals to give everyone access to high-quality eye care as part of universal health coverage

Commenting on the report, Professor Sir Peng Khaw, Director, NIHR Biomedical Research Centre at Moorfields and UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, said:

“In high-income countries we often take eye care for granted, but this Lancet Global Health Commission shows that globally, over a billion people are missing out on even basic treatment for preventable sight impairment, such as glasses and cataract surgery. The impact of this is huge, not just on quality of life, but in economic terms. The report sets out why targeted investment, training and better technology are urgently needed, alongside more research – and how the benefits of addressing the issues highlighted would far outweigh the cost, helping to reduce global inequality.

“I’m particularly proud that the NIHR Moorfields Biomedical Research Centre has helped support fundraising for this landmark report, and that some of our leading researchers at Moorfields Eye Hospital and UCL Institute of Ophthalmology have contributed to its findings.”

Find out more

Launch events

Three online events have been planned to coincide with the launch of the Lancet Commission report:

  • Wednesday 24 February: UN Friends of Vision Webinar - Vision for Everyone - Unlocking Human Potential, 08:30 - 10:00 EST | 13:30 -15:00 GMT. This is an event hosted by UN Friends of Vision and the IAPB and will feature the launch of the Lancet Global Health Commission as well as the IAPB Vision Atlas.
    Register: IAPB | squarelive

  • Wednesday February 24: The Lancet Global Health Commission on Global Eye Health: vision beyond 2020 Webinar 1 (Americas/Europe/Africa) 11:00 - 12:30 EST / 16:00 - 17:30 GMT / 18:00 - 19:30 CAT

  • Thursday 25 February: The Lancet Global Health Commission on Global Eye Health: vision beyond 2020 Webinar 2 (Middle East/Asia/Pacific) 10:00 - 11:30 GST / 11:30 - 13:00 IST / 17:00 - 18:30 AEDT

Find out more about all of these events here.

Image credit (top): Photo by Joshua Forbes on Unsplash