The Global Issue of Vision Loss and What We Can Do About It: José Rizal Medal 2015

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Abstract

The prevalence of blindness increases rapidly with increasing age. Globally, there are some 32 million people who are blind and 191 million with poor vision. The leading cause of blindness worldwide is cataract, whereas uncorrected refractive error causes most poor vision. The rates of blindness from diabetes and macular degeneration are rapidly increasing, and age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in developed countries. Three quarters of this blindness can be prevented or treated, and although the absolute number of blind people increased slightly between 1990 and 2010, very importantly, the prevalence of blindness has been halved as eye care programs and particularly cataract services have developed. We know how to deliver better eye care, and it works! However, with only 205,000 ophthalmologists worldwide, there is much work to do. The International Council of Ophthalmology has a major focus on education and team building to improve the quality and availability of eye care around the world. Its programs include curricula for all levels, examinations, fellowships, teaching of teachers, continuing professional development, and of course, the World Ophthalmology Congresses. We must work together in partnership to eliminate avoidable blindness worldwide.

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