Europe and Universal Eye Health
Data on the prevalence of blindness and visual impairment in Europe is sparse. According to 2010 data from the WHO there are around 3 million blind and 28.7 million severe and moderately visually impaired people across the 53 countries of the region. Diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration are major causes in Western Europe, while cataract and refractive error are also of focus. As the population ages in Europe, these threats are increasing and in Eastern Europe, ROP is a major cause of blindness among children. The region includes developing, middle income and fully industrialised nations, and as such eye health provision, financing, payment, and access vary considerably. Lack of awareness of the need for routine exams, outreach issues, problems with referral pathways and inadequate training are key challenges to ensuring universal eye health in Europe.
The United Kingdom: The UK Vision Strategy
- In 2012, an indicator on eye health was included in England’s Public Health Outcomes Framework to track the rates of three major causes of avoidable sight loss.
- The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) has selected eye health as one of its four clinical priorities for 2013 – 2016.
- In England, 1,000 extra buses are to become Talking Buses, which will make travel safer and more accessible for those with visual impairment. A similar commitment has been made in Wales.