VISION 2020 is a global initiative of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB). The initiative seeks to eliminate the main causes of avoidable blindness in order to give all people in the world, particularly the millions of needlessly blind, the right to sight by the year 2020. VISION 2020 programs facilitate the planning, development, and implementation of sustainable national eye care programs. This includes providing technical support and advocacy for the prevention of avoidable blindness.
Blindness and Visual Impairment: Global Facts
According to estimates from the WHO Prevention of Blindness and Deafness Program1:
- In 2010, the number of people visually impaired worldwide was estimated to be 285 million, of whom 39 million were blind; 246 million have low vision (severe or moderate visual impairment).
- Preventable causes are as high as 80% of the total global visual impairment burden.
- About 90% of the world's visually impaired people live in low- and middle-income countries.
- Globally, uncorrected refractive errors are the main cause of visual impairment.
- Cataracts are the leading cause of preventable blindness.
- Age-related causes of visual impairment and blindness are increasing, as is blindness due to uncontrolled diabetes.
- Top causes of visual impairment: refractive errors, cataracts, and glaucoma
- Top causes of blindness: cataracts, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration
- The number of people visually impaired from infectious diseases has greatly reduced in the last 20 years.
1 Data sourced from the document “Global Data on Visual Impairments” and the IAPB website. Retrieved October 14, 2013.
The guiding principles of VISION 2020 are summarized in the acronym ISEE:
- Integrated into existing health care systems
- Sustainable in terms of money and other resources
- Equitable care and services available to all, not just the wealthy
- Excellence—a high standard of care throughout
Since the 1990 launch of VISION 2020: The Right to Sight, more than 100 WHO Member States have joined the initiative, established their national prevention of blindness and eye health committees, and developed national prevention of blindness and eye health plans. IAPB promotes the initiative in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO) and member organizations.
Global Action Objectives
Most recently, a Global Action Plan 2014–2019 has been created that aims to sustain and expand efforts by member states, the Secretariat, and international partners to further improve eye health and to work toward attaining the vision just described. Its goal is to reduce avoidable visual impairment as a global public health problem and to secure access to rehabilitation services for the visually impaired. The purpose of the action plan is to achieve this goal by improving access to comprehensive eye care services that are integrated into health systems.
Five principles and approaches underpin the plan:
- Universal access and equity
- Human rights
- Evidence-based practice
- A life-course approach
- Empowerment of people with visual impairment
Proposed actions for member states, international partners, and the Secretariat are structured around 3 objectives:
- Objective 1: Addresses the need for generating evidence on the magnitude and causes of visual impairment and eye care services and using it to advocate greater political and financial commitment by member states to eye health
- Objective 2: Encourages the development and implementation of integrated national eye health policies, plans and programs to enhance universal eye health with activities in line with WHO’s framework for action for strengthening health systems to improve health outcomes.
- Objective 3: Addresses multisectoral engagement and effective partnerships to strengthen eye health.
VISION 2020 Objectives
VISION 2020 is built on a foundation of community participation. National programs should include equity of treatment and a standard quality of services. Objectives are to:
- Increase awareness, within key audiences, of the causes of avoidable blindness and the solutions to eliminate the problem
- Identify and secure the necessary resources around the world to increase prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation programs.
- Facilitate the planning, development and implementation of national VISION 2020 programs in all countries.
- At the national level, a strong partnership of the Ministry of Health, national and international NGOs, professional organizations, and civil society groups should be brought together for a nationwide prevention of blindness.
Main Elements of National Programs
- Cost-effective disease control interventions
- Human resource development (training and motivation)
- Infrastructure development (facilities, appropriate technology, consumables, funds)
Target Disease Areas for VISION 2020
- Refractive error
- Childhood blindness
- Low vision
- Onchocerciasis/river blindness
- Diabetic retinopathy
- Age-related macular degeneration
- Gender and blindness
- Vitamin A deficiency
VISION 2020 Structure
Source: World Health Organization, Prevention of Blindness Program (WHO/PBD), 2005.
Selected VISION 2020 Resources
Visit www.iapb.org/vision-2020 for more information.