The Foundation has welcomed a new Global Action Plan that aims to decrease the amount of avoidable blindness and visual impairment through the treatment of over 50 million people.

The ambitious five-year plan, adopted overnight by the World Health Assembly in Geneva, sets a target of reducing the total prevalence of avoidable blindness and visual impairment by 25 per cent – down from an estimated 228 million people.

Australia was formally thanked during the adoption of the plan, with references made to the Federal Government’s recent budget commitment of $40 million to conduct 100,000 vision screenings and 10,000 sight-restoring surgeries in the Asia Pacific region.

The Fred Hollows Foundation’s CEO Brian Doolan says the adoption of the new Global Action Plan is a watershed moment for global eye health.

“Eighty per cent of blindness and vision loss is avoidable. That means right now there are literally hundreds of thousands of people around the globe who could be liberated from their condition.

“The Global Action Plan represents hope. It says that if governments implement its recommendations – all of which The Foundation feel are reasonable and achievable, we will one day realise Fred’s dream of a world without avoidable blindness.

“I’m also very proud to see that Australia has taken such a strong lead in this global fight.”

The Action Plan targets the treatment of cataract and uncorrected refractive error as keys to the reduction. This will be achieved through governments adequately resourcing comprehensive eye health services that are integrated into public health services.   

Doolan says that if governments invest in vision services, they will be rewarded economically. 

“The Fred Hollows Foundation recently released a study by PwC into the economical benefits of treating avoidable blindness. It found that for each $1 spent by on treating avoidable blindness, $4 is returned.

“This places the treatment of blindness as one of the most cost effective areas of government public investment – right up there with investment in primary school education.”