We’ve always known good eye health was important – now we can quantify its economic benefits. 

World-first research by The Fred Hollows Foundation released in 2023 has demonstrated an investment case for scaling up programs to reduce blindness and vision impairment globally.

An investment case is an economic modelling technique that provides a basis for financing programs that reduce the burden of disease.

Together with Victoria University’s Institute for Strategic Economic Studies, The Foundation has developed a landmark model that estimates the return on investment (ROI) in eye health to achieve the World Health Assembly (WHA) targets by 2030.



The 19 countries included in our model were: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Burundi, Cambodia, China, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Kenya, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Palestine, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Rwanda, Timor-Leste and Vietnam.

The report focuses on the two leading causes of blindness and vision impairment – cataract and refractive error (namely, myopia and presbyopia) – and models intervention costs and benefits across 19 countries where The Foundation works.

The benefits of restoring sight, which in this report focus solely on economic returns, include increased labour force participation and productivity, and improved education and learning.

Photo Credit: The Fred Hollows Foundation


“It demonstrates what we all know - that investment in eye care has a great return,” CEO Ian Wishart said.


What the numbers tell us

The key findings of the report demonstrate that investments in eye health are among the highest ROI of any disease intervention modelled by similar investment cases.

Cataract treatment on average returns US$20.50 for every dollar spent.

Refractive error treatments return on average US$10.80 for myopia (nearsightedness) and US$8 for presbyopia (age-related vision loss).

Together, investment in the two leading causes of blindness and vision impairment will return on average US$9.40 for each dollar spent.


Of all countries included in the model, the estimated ROI for cataract surgery was highest in Kenya at US$52. Kenya also had among the highest ROI for treatment of myopia at US$15.3 and presbyopia at US$13.1


It’s time to act

Armed with this compelling new evidence, The Foundation is calling for urgent collective action across government, non-government, philanthropy and the private sector to prioritise health system investments.

Immediate action is needed to reach the WHA targets for global eye care targets by 2030.

If we don’t act now, by 2050 it is estimated that more than 1.7 billion people will be living with avoidable vision impairment.


Photo Credit: The Fred Hollows Foundation





Citation: Hennessy, J and Sweeny, K 2023, Transforming Lives: An Investment Case for Eye Health, The Fred Hollows Foundation, Melbourne Australia
COVER PHOTO: Hugh Rutherford

Contact details:

Jack Hennessy, Senior Health Economist [email protected]

Brandon Ah Tong, Director, Policy and Advocacy [email protected]