The Lancet Global Health Commission on Global Eye Health: Vision Beyond 2020

The report was created through a broad consultation involving experts within and outside the eye care sector to help inform governments and other stakeholders about the path forward for eye health beyond 2020, to further the SDGs (including universal health coverage), and work towards a world without avoidable vision loss.

  • Eye health and vision have widespread and profound implications for many aspects of life, health, sustainable development, and the economy. Yet nowadays, many people, families, and populations continue to suffer the consequences of poor access to high-quality, affordable eye care, leading to vision impairment and blindness.

  • In 2020, an estimated 596 million people had distance vision impairment worldwide, of whom 43 million were blind.

  • Another 510 million people had uncorrected near vision impairment, simply because of not having reading spectacles.

  • 90% live in low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs).

  • 90% of people with vision impairment have a preventable or treatable cause with existing highly cost-effective interventions

  • By 2050, population ageing, growth, and urbanisation might lead to an estimated 895 million people with distance vision impairment, of whom 61 million will be blind.

  • Annual global productivity loss from vision impairment is approximately US$410·7 billion purchasing power parity.

  • Eye health needs to be reframed as a development as well as a health issue and given greater prominence within the global development and health agendas.

  • Vision loss has many causes that require promotional, preventive, treatment, and rehabilitative interventions. Greater financial investment is needed so that millions of people living with unnecessary vision impairment and blindness can benefit from these interventions.

Some of the key messages from the Commission are:

  • Eye health is essential to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals; vision needs to be reframed as a development issue

  • Almost everyone will experience impaired vision or an eye condition during their lifetime and require eye care services; urgent action is necessary to meet the rapidly growing eye health need

  • Eye health is an essential component of universal health coverage; it must be included in planning, resourcing, and delivery of health care

  • High quality eye health services are not universally delivered; concerted action is needed to improve quality and outcomes, providing effective, efficient, safe, timely, equitable, and people-centred care

  • Highly cost-effective vision-restoring interventions offer enormous potential to improve the economic outlook of individuals and nations; a major scale up of financial investment in eye health is required

  • Financial barriers to accessing eye care leave many people behind; eye health needs to be included in national health financing to pool the risk

  • Technology and treatment developments offer new tools to improve eye health; thoughtful application is needed to maximise the potential to improve coverage, accessibility, quality, efficiency, and affordability

  • The eye health workforce is unable to meet population needs in many countries; major expansion in service capacity is required through increased numbers, sharing tasks, strengthened training, enabling work environments, and effective leadership

  • Reliable survey and service data are key to progress in eye health; robust indicator data are needed to shape change and drive action

  • Research has been crucial to advances in understanding and treating eye disease; solution-focused, contextually relevant research is urgently needed to deliver innovative prevention and treatment strategies and inform implementation of eye health within universal health coverage

Publication date

February 17, 2021


The Lancet Global Health

Sponsor Institution

The Lancet Global Health Commission


Prof Matthew J Burton, PHD, Jacqueline Ramke, PHD, Ana Patricia Marques, PHD, Prof Rupert R A Bourne, MD, Prof Nathan Congdon, MD, Iain Jones, MSC Et Al.
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