A new report reveals that vision loss in Canada costs individuals, families, and governments almost $33 billion a year.
Fighting Blindness Canada, along with the Canadian Council of the Blind, the Canadian Association of Optometrists and the Canadian Ophthalmological Society, recently released a report regarding Canada’s emerging crisis of preventable blindness and how governments need to address it before it’s too late.
Living with vision loss negatively impacts an individual’s financial health and often represents a loss of independence. 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 newly released Cost of Vision Loss and Blindness in Canada Report shows 1.2 million Canadians are living with vision loss – 466,000 in Ontario alone, 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 – over 3.1 million in Ontario – 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. Thanks to advancements in research, 75 percent of vision loss is either preventable or treatable if caught early. Therefore, prevention is critical to stop vision loss.
Doug Earle, President and CEO of Fighting Blindness Canada shares on the projected 67% growth by 2050 in the number of Canadians living with vision loss, “Until government invests in eye care and prevention, a growing number of Canadians will be facing the impact from vision loss. We are facing an emerging crisis in preventable vision loss unless we change our eye health policies. Vision loss will continue to grow needlessly without action made now.”
This is where optometrists come in; detecting and diagnosing vision problems before the risk of progression. They also diagnose a variety of health issues – from high blood pressure, diabetes, and even brain tumors.
Indeed, strong, accessible primary eye care is the key to improving eye health and vision care outcomes, and to averting the downstream health, social and economic impacts of vision loss.
However, if governments fail to invest in eye care, vision health challenges faced by Canadians will only get worse as the population ages. This is the situation we are facing in Ontario. Decades of underfunding and neglect by the provincial government has pushed the eye care system to the brink.
Starting September 1st, OHIP covered patients will no longer have access to eye care services. This means millions of children, seniors and people with existing eye conditions will be without the eye care they need.
This can be avoided. The Ontario government needs to commit to a formal and binding negotiation process that will lead to a solution where optometrists are not left out-of-pocket for OHIP covered appointments.
Given the substantial cost of vision loss to Ontarians and their families, there’s no reason for the government to not commit to a formal process.
Send a letter to your MPP by visiting www.saveeyecare.ca. Spread awareness using the hashtag on social media #SaveEyeCare.