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VISION 2020: A global alliance

Christian Garms, former Executive Director of CBM, speaks at the Vision 2020 Launch in Kabul, Afghanistan
Christian Garms, former Executive Director of CBM, speaks at the Vision 2020 Launch in Kabul, Afghanistan

In 1999 CBM was one of the founding organisations to launch VISION 2020, a global initiative to eliminate avoidable blindness by the year 2020.

What is VISION 2020?

logo of VISION2020 ©.
VISION 2020 is the global initiative for the elimination of avoidable blindness, a joint programme of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) with an international membership of NGOs, professional associations, eye care institutions and corporations.

The need

  • Worldwide, 285 million people are visually impaired due to various cases; 39 million of them are blind.
  • 121 million are visually impaired because of uncorrected refractive errors (near-sightedness, far-sightedness or astigmatism). Almost all of them could have normal vision restored with eyeglasses, contact lenses or refractive surgery.
  • 90% of visually impaired people live in low- and middle-income countries.
  • 51% of all blindness is due to age-related cataract, the leading cause of blindness.
Statistics taken from World Health Organization website, October 2012 - Read more:

Why a global alliance?

The VISION 2020 initiative, if successfully implemented, will prevent over 100 million people from going blind.
The economic gain in terms of increased productivity is conservatively estimated at over US$100 billion.
The latest figures suggest that VISION 2020 has already had a significant impact on global blindness with several countries documenting a reduction in the prevalence of blindness.

What does VISION 2020 look like on the ground?

The VISION 2020 strategy is to implement eye care services as an integrated part of general health care through 'district level' eye care teams who are appropriately trained and equipped to provide primary and secondary level services for a population of approximately one million people.
This 'community and district level' model is replicated to develop a national programme, so that a country of 20 million people may have about 20 such “district” eye care teams/units and programmes. Therefore each 'community and district' programme consists of three main components delivered as a part of a comprehensive, integrated and sustainable eye care service:
  • Human resource development to train an eye care team and community workers.
  • Infrastructure development to equip the team with the medicines, instruments etc.
  • Disease control targeted at the main preventable diseases in that community.

Main current priorities

  • Cataract (an eye disease of ageing), causing more than 50% of global blindness.
  • Eye infections (trachoma and onchocerciasis), visual loss in children (xerophthalmia), causing approximately 10% of blindness worldwide.
  • Refractive errors and low vision.
  • Other potentially preventable and/or treatable causes of visual loss such as diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma can be included, on a country by country basis, as determined by the local situation.

WHO Director-General

Dr Margaret CHAN, Director-General of WHO
“Vision 2020 is about our collective capacity to make a difference to the millions of children and adults around the world who continue to be deprived of basic eye care and sight restoration measures”

Margaret Chan
WHO Director-General


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