The economic and social costs of visual impairment and blindness in India
This study estimates the economic and social costs of visual impairment and blindness in India using data from various sources, including the Blindness and Visual Impairment Survey in India and the Lancet Global Health Commission on Global Eye Health. The study considers multiple factors, such as reduced employment, elevated mortality risk, education loss, productivity loss, welfare loss for the unemployed, and caregiver costs associated with moderate and severe visual impairment (MSVI) and blindness. The findings reveal that the costs of MSVI and blindness in India in 2019 amounted to INR 1,158 billion (PPP US$54.4 billion), accounting for various cost streams. The most significant cost was associated with the loss of employment, followed by caregiver time. A more conservative estimate that focused only on employment loss and elevated mortality risk resulted in a cost of INR 504 billion (PPP US$23.7 billion). These costs represent a substantial constraint on India's economic growth aspirations, equivalent to 0.47% to 0.70% of GDP. The study highlights the need to address poor eye health efficiently in India, especially as costs are expected to increase over time due to demographic changes. Encouragingly, research indicates that addressing poor eye health can yield significant benefits for the country.