Hope and Healing

Reduction in the number of people who are blind!

October 18, 2010General

We are on our way!

In 1999 cbm together with the World Health Organization (WHO) and three other organizations (SightSavers, Orbis, and Helen Keller) launched a program to reduce blindness. The program was called VISION 2020. The number of people blind in the world in 1999 was 50 million, and the objective was to reduce that to 25 million by 2020.

 So how are we doing? The numbers came out last week and the WHO not says there are 39.8 million who are blind. This is a reduction on almost 11 million in our first 10 years of VISION 2020. This is wonderful news – and a demonstration of how effective we can be when we work strategically and with a plan. However, it also shows how much more we have to do to reach our targets of 25 million in another 10 years.

 Some interesting statistics for you:

  • Up to 80% of blindness is avoidable by prevention or treatment.
  • Almost 90% of blind people live in low-income countries.
  • The major causes of blindness are cataract, glaucoma, age related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.
  • Restoration of sight through cataract surgery is a very cost-effective health intervention.
  • Blindness from trachoma is decreasing as a result of public health interventions, implementation of SAFE strategy and socio-economic development.
  • Blindness from onchocerciasis is decreasing as a result of public health interventions – Mectizan distribution.

 Once again the statistics show clearly the link between poverty and disability. People live in greater poverty when they have a disability – and poverty causes disability.