New data on the global economic impact and burden of preventable blindness and vision impairment

NovartisTo highlight the critical need for access to eye care and regular eye examinations, Novartis and its eye care division, Alcon, are introducing new data on World Sight Day, highlighting the economic impact and burden that blindness and vision impairment can have on societies and individuals across the globe. World Sight Day, held on October 9th, is a global initiative to help raise awareness and address the problem of preventable blindness and vision impairment worldwide.

Conducted by Novartis, The European Forum Against Blindness (EFAB) and Deloitte Access Economics, "The Cost and Burden of Eye Diseases and Preventable Blindness" study quantified the economic impact of vision loss by analyzing the top four eye diseases responsible for vision loss: glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, cataracts, and wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which, in the EU alone, affects one in 10 people. The study also analyzed the cost-effectiveness of interventions to prevent them. A total of 14 countries were included in the study: Australia, Argentina, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Poland, Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK.

Burden and Impact of Preventable Blindness
Eyes need to be regularly examined, as many eye diseases show no early symptoms or are slow to progress and, are often only detected after vision has been altered or lost. Due to these factors, blindness and vision impairment can be a considerable burden to individuals, families and societies, imposing severe physical, financial and quality-of-life limitations.

The analysis found that within the 14 countries studied, more than 350,000 healthy life years are lost due to cataracts, glaucoma, AMD and diabetic retinopathy, equaling more than 123 million workdays lost per year. In addition, the annual economic costs due to preventable vision impairment and blindness totaled more than 20 billion EUR.

Vision Impairment and Blindness Can Be Avoided
Investing in cost-effective interventions has a big impact on reducing the disease burden. Globally, more than 285 million people live with vision impairment and blindness.[1] But, more than 90% of vision problems can be prevented, treated or cured, provided patients have access to treatment.[1]

The analysis found that access to eye care, and early diagnosis and treatment for these eye conditions can have an enormous impact on reducing the disease burden and offset a significant amount of economic cost to society. For instance, screening for diabetic retinopathy, cataracts and AMD alone can offset economic costs by more than €6 billion EUR each year. To learn more about the economic costs and burden of preventable blindness and how it differs across the globe, visit www.globalcostofblindness.com.

Taking Care of Your Eyes at Every Age
A person's eye health is constantly changing as they age, with new needs and challenges at different times in life. Eyes at age three are much different than eyes at age 30 or 60. The eyes are also a good indicator of overall health. A range of illness can be detected through an eye examination, including diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and even rare hereditary diseases.[2]

This year on World Sight Day, Alcon is helping people around the world learn about their eye health at every age by providing in-depth, downloadable digital materials intended to help encourage conversations about how to properly maintain eye health and visual function. These materials cover eye diseases and conditions starting at birth to age 60 and older.

About Alcon
Alcon, the global leader in eye care, provides innovative products that enhance quality of life by helping people worldwide see better. The three Alcon businesses - Surgical, Ophthalmic Pharmaceuticals and Vision Care - offer the widest spectrum of eye care products in the world. Alcon is the second largest division of the Novartis Group, with pro-forma sales of USD 10.5 billion in 2013. Headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas, USA, Alcon has more than 25,000 employees worldwide, operations in 75 countries and products available in 180 markets.

About Novartis
Novartis provides innovative healthcare solutions that address the evolving needs of patients and societies. Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Novartis offers a diversified portfolio to best meet these needs: innovative medicines, eye care, cost-saving generic pharmaceuticals, preventive vaccines and diagnostic tools, over-the-counter and animal health products. Novartis is the only global company with leading positions in these areas. In 2013, the Group achieved net sales of USD 57.9 billion, while R&D throughout the Group amounted to approximately USD 9.9 billion (USD 9.6 billion excluding impairment and amortization charges). Novartis Group companies employ approximately 135,000 full-time-equivalent associates and sell products in more than 150 countries around the world.

1. International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB), Global Facts. http://www.iapb.org/vision-2020/global-facts [Accessed October 6, 2014]
2. World Health Organization. Vision 2020: The Right to Sight. http://www.who.int/mip2001/files/1994/Vision2020-TheRighttoSight.pdf [Accessed June 26, 2014]

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