Prevention of Blindness and Visual Impairment

Universal eye health: a global action plan 2014–2019

The global eye health action plan 2014–2019 aims to reduce avoidable visual impairment as a global public health problem and to secure access to rehabilitation services for the visually impaired. This should be achieved by expanding current efforts by Member States, the WHO Secretariat and international partners, improved coordination, efficient monitoring, focusing the use of resources towards the most cost-effective interventions, and developing innovative approaches to prevent and cure eye diseases.

Definition and Causes

Blindness is the inability to see. The leading causes of chronic blindness include cataract, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, corneal opacities, diabetic retinopathy and eye conditions in children (e.g. caused by vitamin A deficiency). Age-related blindness is increasing throughout the world, as is blindness due to uncontrolled diabetes. On the other hand, blindness caused by infection is decreasing, as a result of public health action. Three-quarters of all blindness can be prevented or treated.

Global data

The magnitude of visual impairment and blindness and their causes have been estimated, globally and by WHO region from recent data. For countries without data estimates were based on newly developed model. Globally the number of people of all ages visually impaired is estimated to be 285 million, of whom 39 million are blind. People 50 years and older are 82% of all blind. The major causes of visual impairment are uncorrected refractive errors (43%) and cataract (33%); the first cause of blindness is cataract (51%). Visual impairment in 2010 is a major global health issue: the preventable causes are as high as 80% of the total global burden.

10 facts about blindness and visual impairment

Visual impairment often limits people’s ability to perform everyday tasks and affects their quality of life. Blindness, the most severe form of visual impairment, reduces people’s ability to move about unaided unless properly trained.

Prevention of blindness

Universal eye health: a global action plan 2014–2019

Investing in eye health: securing the support of decision-makers

ICD Update and Revision Platform: Change the Definition of Blindness

Prevention of blindness form diabetes mellitus

Contact us

World Health Organization Prevention of Blindness and Deafness (PBD) 20 Avenue Appia CH-1211 Geneva 27 Switzerland