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Eye Health and the Sustainable Development Goals

IAPB’s advocacy recognises eye health as both a health and development issue.

We actively promote the inclusion of eye health within the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and support the development of partnerships with sectors beyond health, such as education, gender and economic development.

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a universal call to action to build a healthier world for the entire population and the environment by 2030. The 17 SDGs and 169 targets are integrated which mean they recognise that action in one area will affect outcomes in the others.

Vision makes an important contribution to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and cuts across many of the Sustainable Development Goals; from poverty reduction to economic growth and employment, to education, gender and reducing inequalities.

It is therefore critical that countries adopt a whole-of-government approach to vision and include eye health in their implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals at the national level.

IAPB and the UN Friends of Vision are currently championing the first United Nations General Assembly Resolution on Vision. The resolution seeks to explicitly recognise the important contribution eye health can make to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals; and aims to motivate action by countries, the private sector, the UN and its institutions. Read further here.

Select the areas below to learn more about how eye health impacts the Sustainable Development Goals.

90% of vision loss is in low- and middle-income countries, with the poor and extreme poor the furthest left behind. Vision loss costs the global economy $411 billion every year in lost productivity alone.

SDG 2: Zero Hunger

Eye care can increase household income and reduce hunger: 46% of households moved up an income bracket following cataract surgery.

Poor eye health increases the risk of mortality up to 2.6 times.

91 million children and adolescents have a vision impairment but do not have access to the eye care services they need. Glasses can reduce the odds of failing a class by 44%. Children with vision loss are 2-5 times less likely to be in formal education in low- and middle-income countries.

SDG 5: Gender Equality

Increased gender equity – 55% of people with vision loss are women and girls.

Providing glasses can increase workplace productivity by 22%. Cataract surgery can increase household per capita expenditure by 88%.

Women, children, older people, persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples, local communities, refugees and internally displaced persons and migrants are most affected by poor vision. 73% of people with vision loss are over the age of 50.

Sustainable cities and communities

Sustainable cities and communities – Unoperated cataract can increase the chance of a motor vehicle accident by 2.5 times.

SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Productions

Healthcare is responsible for 4.4% of global emissions, unsustainable procurement, and poor waste management. Insufficient climate strategies result in healthcare acquired infections and substantial impacts on society and the environment.

SDG goals

Human and planetary health are closely intertwined with global warming leading to in an increase in eye diseases and injuries. Climate events will threaten vulnerable communities by disrupting eye health service delivery and affecting critical supplies.

SDG 17: Partnership

Vision for everyone cannot be achieved without partnership.


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Photo Credits

Banner image: Peter Crosby