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some statistics on blindness from WHO site

From: gregory j. rosmaita <oedipus@hicom.net>
Date: Thu, 7 Jun 2001 16:07:46 -0400
To: <w3c-wai-eo@w3.org>
aloha, again!

whilst googling the WHO site (www.who.int) whilst on hold today, i came
across the following information, which i thought of sufficient interest to
circulate via the EO list:

   WHO fact sheet number: 142
   date: February 1997
   source: <http://www.who.int/inf-fs/en/fact142.html>

"The loss of eyesight is one of the most serious misfortunes that can befall
person. Due to the lack of epidemiological data, especially from the
countries, the exact number of blind persons in the world is not known. In
1994, WHO estimated it to be around 38 million with a further 110 million
of low vision, that are at risk of becoming blind. Thus, the global burden
serious visual impairment is estimated to be 148 million people.

The estimated worldwide prevalence of blindness is 0.7%, ranging from 0.3%
the Established Market Economies and Former Socialist Economies of Europe to
0.6% in China to 1% in India to 1.4% in Sub-Saharan Africa."


"The number of people who become blind each year is estimated to be in the
region of 7 million. Over 70% of these people receive treatment and their
vision is restored. Thus, the number of blind persons worldwide is currently
increasing by up to 2 million per year. Eighty percent of these new cases

Demographic trends indicate that the global population will increase from
billion in 1996 to an estimated 7.9 billion by 2020. While changes in
fertility rates over the next two decades may influence these projections,
estimates for the older age groups are expected to be accurate. By 2020, the
number of elderly persons (60 years of age and above) will almost double and
reach 1.2 billion, of whom more than three-quarters will be in developing

2. food for thought from "Blindness As A Public Health Problem in China"
   WHO fact sheet number: 230
   date: September 1999
   source: <http://www.who.int/inf-fs/en/fact230.html>

"China accounts for about 18% of the world's blind. The country is estimated
to have the largest number of blind people in the world – around 5 million.
definition, these people cannot walk about unaided.

Against the background of a huge population, estimated by the UN at some
million people, these figures do not look impressive. Indeed, the current
prevalence of blindness in China – the total number of blind people at any
given time expressed as a percentage of the total population -- is around
However, in absolute terms, the country's ever-increasing blind population
already surpassed the total population in such countries as Denmark, Finland
or Norway.

In China, blindness is not only a public health and social problem. Apart
the unspeakable suffering and hardship that it has brought upon these
of people and their immediate families, this condition is a serious drain on
the national economy. However, any attempt to arrive at the total direct and
indirect costs of blindness to the Chinese economy will be guesswork. Such
statistics do not exist in the country.

For comparison, in 1990, the total cost of blindness to the federal budget
the USA was estimated to be around US$4.1 billion. It was also estimated
if all the avoidable blindness in persons under 20 and working-age adults
prevented, a potential saving of US$1.0 billion per year would accrue to the
federal budget.

In a study from India in 1989, such costs, including a minimal subsistence
allowance for the blind, were estimated at some US$4.6 billion per year.

Globally, the aggregated costs of blindness to the world economy were put at
some US$25 billion."

RATIONAL, adj.  Devoid of all delusions save those of observation,
experience and reflection.
                       -- Ambrose Bierce, _The Devil's Dictionary_
Gregory J. Rosmaita, oedipus@hicom.net
          Camera Obscura: http://www.hicom.net/~oedipus/index.html
Received on Thursday, 7 June 2001 16:06:44 UTC

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