May 11, 2021
New report reveals vision loss costs Canada almost $33 billion annually
Fighting Blindness Canada, partnering with the Canadian Council of the Blind and key partners, the Canadian Association of Optometrists and the Canadian Ophthalmological Society, commissioned new research, The Cost of Vision loss and Blindness in Canada, from Deloitte Access Economics, to identify Canada’s emerging crisis of preventable blindness.
The new report reveals that the emerging crisis of preventable blindness in Canada costs almost $33 billion annually and impacts all Canadians, including individuals, families, and governments.
Living with vision loss negatively impacts an individual’s financial health and often represents a loss of independence and reduced quality of life. As Canada’s population ages, the number of individuals living with vision loss is growing and will increasingly impact Canada’s health system and economy.
The report shows 1.2 million Canadians are living with vision loss, with many facing a lack of investment in services and supports that impact their ability to live life to its fullest potential. Strikingly over 8 million Canadians are living with one of the four major blinding eye diseases (age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and cataracts), and either have or are at risk of vision loss – this is 1 out of 5 Canadians. What is most concerning is that 75 percent of vision loss is either preventable or treatable if caught early.
The report revealed the following costs from vision loss borne by society and individuals every year:
- Direct health care costs – $9.5 billion
- Indirect health care & other costs – $6.1 billion
- Cost of well-being – $17.4 billion
“The direct health care costs highlight the need to reduce the progression of eye diseases and vision loss through preventive health measures,” said Keith Gordon, Ph.D., the principal investigator of the Report. “The research demonstrates that the affected individuals and their families primarily bear 65% of the costs of living with vision loss.”
Federal government leadership for families impacted by vision loss is long overdue.
In 2003, the Government of Canada committed to the World Health Organization (WHO) to develop a Vision Health Plan for Canada by 2007. Despite this commitment, there is no vision care plan for Canada.
Beyond the Vision Health Plan, the federal government must also ensure the Canadian health care system and the provinces and territorial governments can meet the growing need for eye care services. There is a need to slow the progression of vision loss and the incidence of eye disease through preventive health.
When governments cover the costs of comprehensive eye examinations, this leads to early detection and diagnosis and allows individuals to receive research-delivered treatments, like cataract surgery, anti-VEGF injections, and treatments to lower eye pressure, that can stabilize sight.
Unfortunately, public coverage for comprehensive eye exams differs dependent on where you live in Canada. This lack of public coverage is compounded by limited vision health coverage in workplace benefits programs.
In addition, for 1 in 4 individuals with vision loss there are currently no treatments for their eye disease and they face the possibility of progressive vision loss.
Increased investment in research and expediting access to clinical trials and treatments is crucial to accelerate the development of new innovative treatments and restoration of sight for many Canadians.
To learn more about the report findings and join our community of passionate supporters who are committed to ending preventable blindness in Canada, visit StopVisionLoss.ca
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