Michael Hodin, PhD , CEO of the Global Coalition on Aging, issued a call to action to address widespread poor vision and barriers to eye health in the aging population at the Prevent Blindness Focus on Eye Health National Summit in Washington.
There are 253 million people worldwide with visual impairments, and 81% of those individuals are 50 years or older, according to Hodin.
“The latest data across all OECD countries, which includes the United States, is that 73% of those who are surveyed between ages of roughly late 50s and early to mid 60s, around what had become traditional retirement in the last century, wanted to keep working,” Hodin said. “With vision impairment that becomes harder, but let’s make sure that all of us are producers in society rather than costs, unless it is absolutely necessary. But with a focus on earlier detection … better prevention strategies and better treatment, we can get to a place where we have a life course of healthy vision.”
Diversifying infrastructure and creating age-friendly cities to meet vision health demands are also necessary, Kira Baldonado, vice president of public health and policy at Prevent Blindness, said.
Baldonado said that the Center for Vision and Population Health was created to empower key stakeholders to acknowledge and integrate better vision and eye health with the goal of improving quality of life.
“Vision is taken for granted, and we think it’s going to be there until it’s gone, so we have to think about it well before that, and we have to make it part of our vernacular in our society,” Baldonado said. “When there’s a diagnosis of a vision impairment that cannot be helped, we need to make sure that that rest of the system is engaged and we connect people to the care, to the resources, the adaptive devices that are going to help them maintain a higher quality of life.”