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Over 2bn struggle to see without glasses: WHO

The eyes don't have it

About 2.2 billion people today struggle to see without a pair of glasses

How often do you clean your eyes or how well do you do it?
Every day, we hear about what’s bad for our health.
Did you know that watching TV at night is bad for your eyes? In fact, looking at any type of screen right before bed in the dark, including your cell phone, e-reader, television and computer, can be harmful. This is because the levels of light are changing rapidly, so your eyes have to work hard to process the changes, which can lead to eyestrain, pain, headaches, dry eye and redness. Even worse? It can mess with your sleep schedule, too.
Reading in dim light isn't advised either.
These, coupled with other commonly ignored things like misusing eye make-up, sleeping in contacts, rubbing your eyes, overusing eye drops and not eating a well-balanced diet, among others, could be making your eyesight deteriorate. According to a recent report by the World Health Organisation, these have now led to at least one billion vision impaired people globally.
In its first world report on vision, WHO said these simple, yet preventable, lack of simple eye care is increasingly pushing more people towards blindness now more than ever.
Globally, the report added, about 2.2 billion people today struggle to see without a pair of glasses and have an impairment or blindness.
While eye conditions and vision impairment conditions like short and far-sightedness, cataracts and glaucoma could be prevented, they are increasingly widespread, and far too often they still go untreated the report noted.


“In a world built on the ability to see, vision, the most dominant of our senses, is vital at every turn of our lives,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus.
Now, the world needs Sh1.5 trillion to address the backlog of blindness s due to short and farsightedness, and cataracts.
Dr Alarcos Cieza, who heads WHO’s work to address blindness and vision impairment, said: “Millions of people have severe vision impairment and are not able to participate in society to their fullest because they can’t access rehabilitation services. In a world built on the ability to see, eye care services, including rehabilitation, must be provided closer to communities for people to achieve their maximum potential.”
According to the report, millions of people are suffering from conditions which could be corrected through a simple operation or prevented from causing blindness if detected early. These conditions include cataracts and glaucoma.
An estimated 826 million people around the world have unaddressed presbyopia, an age-related condition that causes vision to become blurred, but can usually be treated with multifocal lenses. And roughly 124 million people who are short or long-sighted (have a refractive error) do not currently wear glasses or contact lenses.
Low- and middle-income regions of western and eastern sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia have rates of blindness that are eight times higher than in all high-income countries. Rates of cataract and trachomatous trichiasis are higher among women, particularly in low- and middle-income countries.


Whereas things like exposing your bare eyes to the sun are actually one of the most common causes of damaged eyesight, infections, chronic illnesses like diabetes, age, genetic disorders also contribute to this rising silent epidemic.
Closer home, the report said, it is estimated that 224,000 Kenyans are blind while another 750,000 are visually impaired. The singles out the Kalenjin as largely predisposed to blindness. According to a survey in Nakuru, the odds of being blind were 2.5 times higher among the Kalenjin than the rest of the county’s population.
The situation in the country is worsened by the low number of eye specialists. Women, migrants, indigenous peoples, the disabled, and rural communities bear the greatest burden.
Trachoma is largely found in poor, rural communities that have inadequate access to water, sanitation and health care.
As a two-decade push to end blindness by 2020 draws to a close, the report noted that goal was unlikely to be met, as the number of people with myopia, an eye condition that makes it difficult for a person to see distant objects, was expected to increase from the estimated two billion people in 2010 to 3.4 billion by 2030.
People in need of yearly or biennial retinal examination for diabetic retinopathy will increase by 50 per cent in 2040.