Roche’s Rachel Frizberg, Therapeutic Area Head, Immunology, Infectious Diseases & Ophthalmology / Established Products, Global Product Strategy, speaks to Peter Holland, Chief Executive Officer of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB)
Published on 14 October 2021
Vision is central to the human experience and how we engage with the world around us – but nearly 2.2 billion people worldwide are living with a vision impairment. Due to insufficient access to simple eye care services, for at least half of these people, it is considered that their condition was not prevented or is yet to be addressed1.
The burden of vision impairment is growing, with the direct costs estimated to be about $2.8 trillion in 20202. Diabetic retinopathy and neovascular age-related macular degeneration are two leading causes of vision impairment and blindness. These conditions impact a person’s ability to work, engage socially and live independently, leading to depression and anxiety. They also increase pressure on health systems and place considerable burden on caregivers3,4.
World Sight Day (WSD) is an annual day of recognition and solidarity to focus attention on the global issue of eye health. It is a day when people around the world band together to drive awareness of what it is like to live with vision impairment, to work to prevent the onset of vision impairment, and to drive positive progress for those suffering from its impact. World Sight Day is coordinated by the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB).
This year’s theme is #LoveYourEyes5 – encouraging us all to focus on our eye health and calling on everyone who can to book a sight test, an exam, or a screening. To mark WSD 2021, Roche’s Rachel Frizberg speaks to Peter Holland, Chief Executive Officer of the IAPB. Peter explains the recent work of the IAPB with the United Nations (UN), the need to raise eye care up the global agenda, and why this year the IAPB is aiming for the biggest WSD ever:
Everyone counts. We need to think not just about our individual eye health needs, but the needs of everybody around the world to have good access to quality eye care...A simple eye test can detect and prevent eye conditions that have a huge impact on patients, families and society as a whole, making this one of the most cost-effective of any healthcare intervention.
Progress is being made but more needs to be done. The first eye care focused UN General Assembly resolution was passed this year6, with a global plan to drive access to eye care support and treatment for all by 2030. This important step means that governments must do more to ensure the 1.1 billion people currently living with sight loss can access the support and treatment they need by 2030.
We're really conscious that this journey to improving vision care worldwide is a real shared responsibility… I'm very much looking forward to supporting you [the IAPB] and the global community on World Sight Day and beyond.
Ophthalmology is a global health challenge that we, at Roche, are committed to tackling, by helping to deliver positive change in the way sight loss is diagnosed, monitored, and treated. More must be done to support access to effective eye care around the world to improve and protect vision.
We are innovating to improve patient outcomes by transforming the diagnosis and treatment experience – by understanding the biology of ophthalmic diseases and what this means in practice to people living with vision impairment; by exploring new technologies, using artificial intelligence and developing digital health solutions to help better detect and monitor disease progression; and by pioneering new therapeutic options like gene therapy, working to deliver a personalised approach to vision care.
We can only achieve our ambitious goals for improving eye care by working together with our partners and colleagues around the world. Roche is proud to support the work of the IAPB, to drive change in ophthalmology worldwide and to elevate eye health as a priority.
Together, we can get to 2030 in sight.
- The Lancet Global Health Commission on Global Eye Health: vision beyond 2020. Published online February 16, 2021. https://globaleyehealthcommission.org/app/uploads/2020/12/Commission-Report-1.pdf (Accessed October 2021).
- International Federation on Ageing. The high cost of low vision. 2013. Available from: http://www.ifa-fiv.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/The-High-Cost-of-Low-Vision-The-Evidence-on-Ageing-and-the-Loss-of-Sight.pdf (Accessed October 2021)
- Access Economics. The global economic cost of visual impairment. 2010. http://www.icoph.org/dynamic/attachments/resources/globalcostofvi_finalreport.pdf (Accessed October 2021)
- Beyond vision loss: the independent impact of diabetic retinopathy on vision-related quality of life in a Chinese Singaporean population. Fenwick EK, et al. Br J Ophthalmol; 2019;103:1314–1319: https://bjo.bmj.com/content/103/9/1314 (Accessed October 2021)
- World Sight Day 2021. International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness: https://www.iapb.org/world-sight-day/ (Accessed October 2021)
- UN General Assembly commits countries to eye care for all by 2030. International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness: https://www.iapb.org/news/un-resolution-vision (Accessed October 2021)