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Globally, uncorrected refractive errors (RE) are the main cause of visual impairment, according to recent WHO estimates This translates in millions of people being functionally blind due to lack of access to spectacles, resulting in lost education and employment opportunities, lower productivity and impaired quality of life.

Yet, the positive impact that providing refractive services can have on employment, poverty alleviation and education, as well as eye health, has largely gone un-noticed, even as post 2015 development discussions make positive references to the rights of people with disabilities and the need for rehabilitation services.

Thus the Refractive Error Work Group has an important advocacy role to keep the issue of refractive error on the radar of health and development policy makers.

The group brings together professionals with a mix of technical and regional knowledge from a broad range of member organisations including the World Council of Optometry, the Brien Holden Vision Institute, CBM, Optometry Giving Sight, Sightsavers and the Vision Impact Institute.

Get in touch if you are interested in contributing to the group.


  • Develop an advocacy strategy to promote attention and action to address RE issues;
  • To draw attention to the importance of the recognition of myopia as a major cause of vision impairment and blindness through Myopic Retinal Degeneration (MRD) and the higher risk of other pathologies such as retinal detachment, cataract and glaucoma;
  • Lead on IAPB’s efforts to influence regional and global inter-governmental and bilateral organizations’ health policy and resource allocations to promote investment in refractive services;
  • Lead on IAPB’s efforts and its engagement with professional bodies and industry to support the development of refractive services that are accessible and affordable to all, including the poorest and most marginalized members of a community;
  • To collate and disseminate knowledge and information and to encourage research about refractive error issues and services to both health policy makers and the public;
  • Engage with other health and development networks to ensure they are supportive of, and promote, refractive service development, that is an integral part of health systems.

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What is avoidable blindness – refractive error