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February 2005

The Gambian Eye Care Program

Arch Ophthalmol. 2005;123(2):262. doi:10.1001/archopht.123.2.262

Vision 2020: The Right to Sight is a global initiative whose aim is the elimination of avoidable blindness. The World Health Organization and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness initiated this program and several nongovernmental organizations have made valuable contributions. Vision 2020 aspires to address treatable or preventable sight-threatening diseases: cataract, trachoma, onchocerciasis, vitamin A deficiency, and refractive errors. As the population ages and longevity increases, the potential for an increase in global blindness over the next few decades imposes a significant public health burden. Current projections are for the number of blind people older than 60 years of age to reach 54 million in the year 2020.1 More important is the estimate that 50 million of these blind people will live in developing countries. The prevalence of blindness varies from 0.3% in the established market economies (industrialized nations) to 1.4% in Sub-Saharan Africa. Success of the Vision 2020 program would reduce the prevalence of blindness in developing nations bringing it more in line with that of the established market economies.

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