The World Health Organization’s (WHO) recent publication of its first-ever World Report on Vision may have slipped by unnoticed by many VM readers. But it’s actually a big deal that’s worthy of our attention. The report’s release indicates that WHO, which usually concentrates on fighting life threatening diseases, has now elevated poor vision to a prominent place on its agenda.

Though blindness and vision impairments are usually not life threatening, they affect the quality of life of at least 2.2 billion people around the world, according to the WHO report, not to mention the widespread and severe economic consequences that result from poor vision. The report also provides vital data on the number of people globally who suffer from various vision impairments.

Among the reports other main findings:

• The burden of eye conditions and vision impairment is not borne equally: it is often far greater in people living in rural areas, those with low incomes, women, older people, people with disabilities, ethnic minorities and indigenous populations.

• The unmet need of distance vision impairment in low- and middle-income regions is estimated to be four times higher than in high-income regions.

• $14.3 billion is needed to address the backlog of 1 billion people living with vision impairment or blindness due to short and far sightedness, and cataracts.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general said, “People who need eyecare must be able to receive quality interventions without suffering financial hardship. Including eyecare in national health plans is an important part of every country’s journey toward universal health coverage.”

In this holiday season, each of us can do our part to help eliminate poor vision by giving to the organization of our choice. To learn more about organizations dedicated to helping those with poor vision, go to “A Greater Vision” section on Read more about companies who give back in our cover story on Social Purpose.