Vision Impairment causes a negative impact on the global economy
Is it hard for you to read normal or small text on your smartphone? Do you have trouble reading a magazine, menu or the information on a prescription bottle? Does holding text away from your body at arm’s length actually help you focus?
If you answered “yes” to these questions, you might have an eye problem which is called presbyopia. It is the progressively diminishing ability of the eye to focus on up-close items, which for many becomes noticeable around the age of 40. The word originated with the Greek word “presbus” for old man combined with “ōps” for the eye.
According to various Eye research centres, it has been noted that Presbyopia is actually a widespread problem — and it affects almost everyone at some point in their lives. In 2018, there were 1.374 billion cases of presbyopia reported around the globe. Of those, one-third were among working-age people 40-49 and another 41 percent were ages 50-64.
Now, vision impairment, such as presbyopia, can compromise a person’s quality of life because it reduces the capacity for everyday activities: reading, working, driving, etc. A major concern with presbyopia is that the people most affected by it — people over 40 — are likely to be in their prime working years.
But the question remains, how that can have a negative impact on global productivity?
It has been noted and estimated that there is a global productivity loss of more than $11 billion due to presbyopia for the 244 million cases worldwide among people younger than 50. Take into account all the cases of those under 65 and assumed to be productive, and the productivity loss increases to more than $25 billion. This is mostly because of negligence, delay, lack of infrastructure and awareness. Almost all presbyopia cases can be fixed either with a pair of glasses or with a corrective lens surgery. If detected and treated early, this situation can be curbed in a short time and deflate the current productivity loss by $1.2 billion.
It might come a shock to you but eyes are an important organ of a human being. Your vision determines a lot to you and to the whole world. An improved vision can change the system significantly. The bottom line is that presbyopia has a significant negative burden on global productivity, and correction would provide an opposite positive boost, especially in lower-income countries. Increasing that could tangibly boost the economies of these nations and the well-being of their citizens.
A fundamental way to improve vision health around the world is access to eye care. Research has shown that recommended eye care that targets eye diseases and refractive errors, such as presbyopia, can immediately and cost-effectively remedy half of the reported vision problems.
Blurry vision is a bigger problem than just not seeing the TV. Older people with moderate or extreme vision loss are more likely to suffer from diabetes, heart disease or stroke than those without vision loss. Those with vision loss are more likely to report fair or poor health — instead of very good or excellent health.
So the best step any of us can take to ensure good eye health is to make sure we have a comprehensive eye exam at least once a year. And if your eye doctor prescribes glasses (or contact lenses), don’t delay getting them. Through simple and regular steps such as an annual eye exam, we can be more productive and improve our quality of life.