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The cost of sight

Analysis of data from 190 countries reveals that nations with higher levels of socioeconomic development had a lower prevalence of visual impairment

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A study of close to 200 nations has found that wealthier countries have lower levels of visual impairment.

Researchers from the University of Melbourne collected information from 190 countries on the prevalence of moderate to severe visual impairment and blindness, as well as socioeconomic factors that contribute to a nation’s human development index (HDI).

The countries were then divided into four levels by HDI – low, medium, high and very high.

Their findings, which have been published in JAMA Ophthalmology reveal that that average prevalence of moderate to severe visual impairment was 4.38% in countries with a low HDI. In countries with a very high HDI, the prevalence dropped to 1.51%.

Higher prevalence rates were also associated with lower health expenditure per capita and health expenditure per gross domestic product.

The authors conclude that socioeconomic factors should be taken into account when implementing strategies aimed at preventing vision loss.