COVID-19 Is Putting Millions of People at Risk of Blindness

COVID-19 Is Putting Millions of People at Risk of Blindness

Access to treatment is shrinking, especially in developing countries.

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted a change in the provision and delivery of eye health services around the world, the World Economic Forum reports.

 

Many vision programs have been temporarily suspended, including mobile eye-screening exercises and non-emergency surgeries, in an attempt to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 for both patients and health workers.

 

This current situation is likely to have a huge impact on eye health in general. The VISION 2020 Right to Sight global initiative – a joint program of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) – cannot now meet its goals.

In Nigeria, for instance, it has been reported that use of eyecare services is as low as 25%, compared to the optimum target of 90%, and the barrier to accessing eye care services is growing thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is likely to cause a rebound effect, with an increased demand for eye care services once restrictions are lifted, compelling eye care workers to double their workload in affected communities.

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