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New Blindness Data Released

16-02-2011
Image shows WHO logo ©WHO
Recently released World Health Organization (WHO) data indicate that prevalence of visual impairment has been significantly reduced to 285 million. Of these, 246 million have moderate to severe visual impairment, while an estimated 39 million are blind.

The WHO says that this reduction reflects the investment of governments and their international development partners in improving eye health services and strategies. Socioeconomic developments have also contributed in many countries to these welcome trends.

Note: While the new data clearly indicate reduced prevalence, no direct comparison can be made with previous data as the methodology to estimate the prevalence of visual impairment and blindness is different from the one used in previous studies.

Challenges remain

Challenges remain to achieve the VISION 2020 goal of eliminating the main causes of avoidable blindness by the year 2020. The top three causes of blindness in the 2010 estimates are cataract, glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration. This highlights the recent trend towards a decline in infectious diseases, while chronic diseases, which affect both the developed and the developing world, are rising steeply.

Key Global Facts

  • A total of 285 million people are visually impaired
  • Of these, 39 million are blind
  • 246 million have moderate to severe visual impairment
  • 63% of those with low vision and 82% of blind people are over 50 years of age
Of the six WHO world regions, South East Asia and Western Pacific account for 73% of moderate to severe visual impairment and 58% of blindness.


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