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Three things you need to know about eye health financing

A snapshot of key issues and messages around financial investment in eye health.

Author: Anthea Burnett, IAPB Knowledge Team, August 2022

1) Sight loss causes, and is caused by, poverty

A tailor in Sierra Leone using his glasses to sew

The costs of eye care (out of pocket costs) can be very expensive –– finding extra money in the household budget to pay for treatment can mean people are pushed towards, or into poverty. Sometimes treating sight loss is just completely unaffordable.

But a good pair of glasses can be the difference between having decent work or not being able to participate in the work force:

  • People with sight loss are less likely to gain employment and more likely to have low paid work.
  • Providing glasses or cataract surgery can improve economic outcomes for individuals with sight loss and their families.

Restoring good vision can provide greater economic opportunities for individuals, and increase workforce participation and economic productivity.

Read more about poverty and economic opportunities.

2) Restoring sight can unlock $411 billion dollars in lost productivity

a mother who looks at her son for the first time after cataract surgery.

We need to work tirelessly to gain the wider recognition that eye health has significant development, economic and social outcomes.

We can prove that at least US$411 billion a year in productivity is lost because of poor vision. We know that it impacts educational opportunity and performance at work.

We understand the wider impacts of poor eyesight beyond health – but others don’t.

 Restoring sight offers economies enormous potential to improve workplace productivity, enhance employment prospects and increase economic productivity.

Read more about how good vision unlocks human potential.

3) A major scale-up of financial investment in eye health is required.

Children waiting for their eye exam, Kampala orphanage in UgandaEye health is currently very underfunded.

The Lancet Global Health Commission on Global Eye Health reports that to improve eye health, we urgently need more resources from all sources, particularly in low- and middle-income countries.

Increased and better allocated government funding is central to making progress towards universal health coverage through social health insurance schemes. Alternative financing arrangements also need to be considered.

As a sector, we need to make sure that funding is used wisely to ensure more eye health for the money. Increased data and evidence around the financing of eye care and the value for money of interventions will make a huge difference.

Photo Credits

Terry Cooper. Graham Coates, Gioconda Armas