A new study by UK and Chinese researchers has found that nearly three million years of blindness in those aged 50 and over could be avoided in China if population level screening for glaucoma was introduced.
The research, which was published in The Lancet Global Health, found that screening would be cost-effective in both rural and urban China, resulting in fewer net costs and greater gains in health benefits than no screening.
The scientists estimated that over a 30-year period, a total of 246 years of blindness for every 100,000 rural residents would be avoided through screening for glaucoma.
The figure was greater in urban populations, with 1325 years of blindness avoided for every 100,000 residents over the three decades.
The research was supported by the global eye health charity, Orbis International.
Queen’s University Belfast professor, Nathan Congdon, who is director of research at Orbis International, said the research has the potential to be a “game-changer.”
“It fundamentally alters the way we all think about this disease, from a passive approach of waiting for patients to seek care, often too late, to actively reaching out into the community, catching glaucoma before blindness occurs,” he said.
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