The Change You Wish to See
Are we blind to the impact that improved eye health could have on the world?
Jed Boye | | Quick Read
It’s no secret that the world isn’t in the best shape – but can eye health play a role in its recovery? Not according to the sustainable development goals (SGDs), a set of objectives set out by the United Nations with the aim of ending poverty, protecting the planet and improving everyone’s lives by 2030. Although impaired eye health affects over one billion people, disproportionately within low- and middle-income countries, eye health is not featured within any of the targets or indicators of SDG monitoring.
Matthew Burton, Director of the International Centre for Eye Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, explained, “Eye health is often overlooked, but it is an important factor for improving global health and quality of life,” (1). When reviewing the ways eye health services and interventions are advancing SDGs, Burton and his team found direct beneficial links to seven SDGs relating to poverty, education, equality, and sustainable cities (2). Although they were unable to draw direct associations between other SDGs and the provision of eye health services, the team felt it plausible that indirect links were still present – albeit harder to assess and attribute.
“This study is part of a growing body of evidence that eye health policies should be embedded across education, the workplace, and social services,” said Burton (1). “Interventions, such as improved access to glasses and cataract surgery, need to be prioritized and receive the financial support that a challenge of this scale deserves.”
It’s clear that eye health is already having a significant global impact on SDG attainment – one that could be greatly magnified through further investment and inclusion within the SDG framework. The eyes of the world are on these goals – but, in reaching for them, it’s important to make sure that we don’t neglect our own eyes.
- London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (2022). Available at: https://bit.ly/3HHj6Ut.
- JH Zhang et al., Lancet Planet. Health, [Online ahead of print] (2022). PMID: 35219448.