This week from September 24 to September 30, is AMD Awareness Week 2011.
AMD (Age related Macular Degeneration) is an eye disease that causes loss of central vision leaving only peripheral, or side, vision intact. Reflecting the growing older populations of the developed world, it accounts for 19-30% of visual impairment.
In 2009 AMD Alliance International commissioned a leading independent economic consulting firm to conduct a comprehensive study on the worldwide economic and health burdens of visual impairment and the results were staggering.
Here are just a few of the findings of the study:
Global cost of visual impairment in 2010: US$ 2,954 billion (this is equal to an average cost of US$ 434 for every individual with or without visual impairment).
Cost of visual impairment due to AMD: US$ 343 billion (12% of the global cost).
Direct health health system costs due to AMD in 2010: US$ 255 billion.
In addition to the worldwide economic burden, those suffering from visual impairment experience a reduced quality of life, greater difficulty with daily living and social dependence, higher rates of clinical depression, twice the rate of premature death, an increased risk of falls and related hip fractures and premature admission to nursing homes.
Worldwide, people with visual impairment were deprived of the equivalent of 118 million years of healthy life due to disability and premature death in 2010.
As for the future, the projections for 2020 serve only to underline the importance of action being taken. By the year 2020 there is expected to be 929 million people worldwide suffering from visual impairment – a 27% increase from 2010. The financial cost by 2020 will be US$ 3,527 billion.
Surprisingly, most visual impairment can be avoided or treated with well known and inexpensive methods.
Education and raising awareness forms a large part of reducing the future financial burden as well as the other burdens vision impairment brings. Making the world more accessible to those already suffering from AMD and other forms of visual impairment makes a huge difference and Media Accessibility in particular, forms an important part of this which is why companies like Descriptive Video Works exist.
Please share this article and do your part to educate and inform. For more information on AMD and the strategies that must be put in place to reduce rising vision impairment burdens, please visit AMD Alliance International.