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Good vision improves health and well-being at all ages.

Eye health is essential for physical health, mental health and well-being.

Investing in eye health improves well-being.

Key evidence from The Lancet Global Health Commission on Global Eye Health:1

  • Vision loss causes injuries and exacerbates other conditions through reduced access to healthcare, limitations in physical activity or increased social isolation.

SDG 3 tile Good Health and Well being

Vision loss increases the risk of mortality.

People with vision loss have an increased risk of health conditions such as dementia, cardiovascular disease and lung cancer, and have higher rates of depression and anxiety.

Key evidence from the Commission:1

  • Vision loss increases the risk of premature mortality – this risk increases as vision loss becomes more severe.6
  • The impact of vision loss on mortality should drive action to address vision loss and reinforces the relevance of eye health to SDG3 and the SDGs in general.1
Vision loss increases the risk of premature mortality: 1.29 times higher with mild vision loss 1.49 times higher with moderate-severe vision loss 2.57 times higher with blindness

Addressing vision loss increases quality of life.

Access to eye health services may improve quality of life for millions of people globally.

Key evidence from the Commission:1

  • There is a strong and consistent association with vision impairment, eye diseases and reduced quality of life, although evidence from low- and middle-income countries and cataract and uncorrected refractive errors is lacking.2
  • Eye health can have a significant detrimental impact on quality of life. Improving access to ophthalmic treatments has the potential to improve quality of life for millions of people.2

Addressing vision loss increases safety.

There is consistent evidence that timely access to cataract surgery can reduce the risk of falls and improved vision can enhance road safety.

Key evidence:

  • Vision loss is associated with motor vehicle collisions and unsafe driving practices.7–10
  • Vision impairment is an independent risk factor for falls among older adults. Timely access to ophthalmic interventions such as cataract surgery can reduce fall risk.3–5
  • The Commission calls for vision to be included in falls risk assessment tools and for eye care services to be better integrated with falls prevention efforts.1

SDG 3 tile Good Health and Well being

Vision loss is linked to social disconnection and reduced quality of life.

Key to promoting the rights of people with vision loss is to improve functional ability through access to vision rehabilitation and creating more inclusive environments.1

Key evidence from the Commission:1

  • Children with vision loss may face social exclusion and violence in schools.11,12
  • Beyond education and employment, vision loss is linked to social exclusion more broadly, including the experience of negative attitudes, violence and bullying, sexual assault, and loneliness.1,13-15

SDG 3 tile Good Health and Well being

  1. Burton, M., Ramke, J., Marques, A., Bourne, R., Congdon, N., Jones, I. et al. Lancet Global Health Commission on Global Eye Health: Vision Beyond 2020. The Lancet Global Health (2021).
  2. Assi, L. et al. Eye Health and Quality of Life: A Global Assessment Through A Systematic Review of Systematic Reviews. Press (2021).
  3. Harwood, R. H. et al. Falls and health status in elderly women following first eye cataract surgery: A randomised controlled trial. Br. J. Ophthalmol. 89, 53–59 (2005).
  4. Meuleners, L. B., Fraser, M. L., Ng, J. & Morlet, N. The impact of first- and second-eye cataract surgery on injurious falls that require hospitalisation: a whole-population study. Age Ageing 43, 341–346 (2014).
  5. Tseng, V. L., Yu, F., Lum, F. & Coleman, A. L. Risk of fractures following cataract surgery in medicare beneficiaries. JAMA – J. Am. Med. Assoc. 308, 493–501 (2012).
  6. Ehrlich, J. R. et al. The Association Between Vision Impairment and Mortality : A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Lancet Glob. Heal. in press, (2020).
  7. Cross, J. M. et al. Visual and medical risk factors for motor vehicle collision involvement among older drivers. Br. J. Ophthalmol. 93, 400–404 (2009).
  8. Achigbu, E. O. & Fiebai, B. Visual defects and commercial motorcycle accidents in south eastern Nigeria. Niger. J. Med. 22, 299–303 (2013).
  9. Subzwari, S. et al. Effectiveness of cataract surgery in reducing driving-related difficulties: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Injury Prevention vol. 14 324–328 (2008).
  10. Piyasena, P. et al. Vision impairment and traffic safety outcomes in low-income and middle-income countries: a systematic review and meta-analysis. The Lancet Global Health (2021).
  11. Gur K, Albayrak S. Exposure to Violence of Secondary School Children with Visual Impairment. J Interpers Violence 2017; 32(15): 2257-74.
  12. Soleimani-Sefat E, Rostami M, Amani S, Movallali G. The Needs and Problems of Students with Visual Impairment. Journal of Social Sciences and Humanity Studies 2016; 2(2): 8-16.
  13. McDonnall MC, Antonelli K. Employers’ implicit attitudes about the competence of people who are blind. Rehabilitation psychology 2018; 63(4): 502-11.
  14. Brunes A, Nielsen MB, Heir T. Bullying among people with visual impairment: Prevalence, associated factors and relationship to self-efficacy and life satisfaction. World journal of psychiatry 2018; 8(1): 43-50.
  15. Brunes A, Heir T. Sexual assaults in individuals with visual impairment: a cross-sectional study of a Norwegian sample. BMJ open 2018; 8(6): e021602.

Related pages on the Vision Atlas

Photo Credits

Tile 1: Gold Owen, Tile 2: Marielle van Uitert, ECF, Tile 3: Lia Marmelstein, ECF, Tile 4: Raj K Raj, Tile 5: Sahebaan Sethim, Arunodaya Charitable Trust