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Early intervention could save €76m annually

25 Apr 2014

By Lloyd Mudiwa. Prioritising earlier intervention could save the Government, which is left with just six years to eliminate avoidable blindness wherever possible under its commitment to the WHO objectives of Vision 2020, up to €76 million annually, a new report into the economic impact of eye diseases in Ireland indicates.

The National Vision Coalition — an alliance of healthcare professionals, those working in the sight loss community and service users — launched the report, the ‘Economic Cost and Burden of Eye Diseases and Preventable Blindness in Ireland’, which highlights that blindness and vision impairment cost the State €205 million in 2010, but investment in cost-effective interventions could save up to €76 million per annum.

Furthermore, the cost of blindness is expected to increase to €2.5 billion by 2020.

Five people go blind in Ireland every week, rising to 260 per year, yet 75 to 80 per cent of blindness is preventable, the report says.

The Coalition, which launched a comprehensive report a year ago recommending the implementation of a national vision strategy, is calling for its immediate implementation, citing that more than 220,000 people in Ireland are blind or vision impaired, with this figure set to increase by a fifth by 2020.

Part of a pan-European study of 16 countries by Deloitte, the report analysed the impact and burden of blindness and the most prevalent eye diseases in Ireland, and evaluated the cost-effectiveness of interventions to prevent eye disease and blindness.

There are currently 292,867 people in Ireland with one of the four eye diseases researched — cataract, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma or wet-age related macular degeneration (wet-AMD) — which can lead to blindness.

25 April 2014

Click here to view the full article which appeared in Irish Medical Times