According to World Health Organization 2010 estimates, approximately 285 million people worldwide live with blindness and low vision caused by uncorrected distance refractive error, eye diseases and other conditions. Of these, approximately 39 million people are blind.

Additionally, functional presbyopia, experienced by people who cannot see clearly at near, affects more than 1 billion people, 517 million of whom do not have adequate near vision correction. Significant near vision disability is experienced by 410 million people.

Vision impairment and its associated costs will rise dramatically through to 2020. Ninety per cent of the world’s blindness exists in developing countries, and over half of all blindness occurs in the Asia Pacific region. There are clear links between poverty and blindness, and the elimination of avoidable blindness is an important step in achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Two thirds of blind people are women, and globally around half a million children become blind every year. In 2001, the World Health Organization reported that a high proportion of children who become blind die within a few years of becoming blind, either from systemic complications of the condition causing blindness, or because poor parents have more difficulty in caring for their blind children than their sighted siblings.

Common Eye Diseases in the Western Pacific Region

The main eye health diseases in the region include cataract, uncorrected refractive error, diabetic retinopathy, Vitamin A deficiency. Additionally, trachoma is prevalent in the Pacific Islands, while glaucoma and myopia are relatively common in China, East Asia and South East Asia.

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