Blindness – the invisible threat. How can Europe respond?

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Approximately 314 million people in the world are visually impaired, of whom 45 million are blind.1 Four of the most common causes of blindness globally are cataract, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and age- related macular degeneration (AMD); together they account for almost three quarters of all blindness. Around 50% of visual impairment in Europe is avoidable, if earlier and more targeted interventions are initiated.

Blindness is a considerable burden to both individuals and society. For individuals it imposes physical, social, financial and quality-of-life limitations. For society, blindness results in economic and in a social burden due to the costs of health care treatment costs, provision of formal and informal care and lost productivity.

To highlight the importance of early intervention to prevent blindness, the European Forum Against Blindness (EFAB) commissioned a report examining the total economic cost of blindness in seven European countries: France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Slovakia, Spain, and the UK. Ultimately, the aim is to compare how different countries manage their cost of blindness, and to identify any transferable learnings in order to improve the burden of blindness in all countries.