- The Vision Loss Epidemic in Canada
- Blindness and Aging
- Medical Statistics
- Eye Diseases
- Vision Health Funding - Canada vs. U.S.
- Financial Cost of Blindness
- Education and Children Who Are Blind
- Employment and Income
- The 2006 Participation and Activity Limitation Survey (PALS) by Statistics Canada reported that 836,000 Canadians identified themselves as having a "seeing disability".
- The study defined an individual as having a seeing disability if he or she had difficulty seeing ordinary newsprint, with corrective lenses if usually worn or had difficulty seeing the face of someone four metres (12 feet) across a room, with corrective lenses if usually worn.
- Of the 836,000 Canadians with a seeing disability:
- 368,000 were adults over the age of 65;
- 19,700 of these were children aged 14 years and under.
Since this definition of visual impairment is self-reported, it can be expected to be significantly greater than that determined by an eye test (visual acuity measure).
A study commissioned for the National Coalition for Vision Health in January 2007; defined visual impairment as people with visual acuity of between 6/12 and 6/60 and blindness as being a visual acuity of less than 6/60. Under this definition:
- 278,000 Canadians are visually impaired;
- 108,000 are legally blind
- the total number of visually impaired and blind Canadians is projected to double over the next 25 years.
- Dr. David K. Foot, professor of economics at the University of Toronto and co-author of the best selling book, Boom, Bust and Echo: How to Profit from the Coming Demographic Shift, says that Canada has about 20 years until an enormous crisis of blindness and low vision hits the baby boom generation as the members of that group reach their 70’s.
- According to Statistics Canada, seniors will make up 23 per cent of the population by 2031 (almost one in four), compared to 13 per cent in 2000.
- According to a 2006 HALS post-censal study, more than one in eleven Canadians over age 65 and more than one in eight over age 75 experience severe vision loss that cannot be corrected with standard eyeglasses.
- The ophthalmology profession is aging. Today 35.4 per cent of practicing ophthalmologist are over the age of 55. By the year 2015, 43.2 per cent will be over the age of 55. (CMA 2001)
- Most ophthalmology services are directed at the elderly and the supply of ophthalmologists is growing more slowly than this segment of the population. The ratio of ophthalmologists to people over 65 is expected to drop approximately 43% over the next 15 years.
- More than 2.5 million Canadians currently have cataracts. This number is expected to increase to 5 million by 2031.
- Approximately 244,766 cataract operations were performed in Canada in 2001.
- At least 250,000 Canadians are affected with glaucoma, with 50 per cent of patients unaware of their disease.
- The number of people blind from this disease is expected to double by 2031, reaching nearly 20,000.
Age-related Macular Degeneration
- It is estimated that nearly 1 million Canadians currently have early AMD with 250,000 having an advanced form of the disease. This number is expected to double by 2031. 64,000 Canadians were blind due to AMD in 2006.
- Nearly 500,000 Canadians currently have some form of diabetic retinopathy with 100,000 having a vision-threatening form of the disease. More than 6,000 are now blind due to the disease.
- The number of Canadians with diabetic retinopathy is expected to increase by 61% by 2031.
- The yearly investment in vision health research in Canada was approximately $10 million in 2006. This compares to the amount of $28 million which should be invested in research if vision health research were to be given funding priority based on economic burden of illness in the same fashion as other disciplines.
- In the report commissioned for the National Coalition for Vision Health, the estimated direct and indirect cost of vision loss in Canada in 2006 was 7.9 billion, ranking vision loss 9th in cost among disease groups.
- There is no national standard for vision screening of pre-school children across Canada. A British Columbia report that looked at vision screening programs found that only six of 9 provinces administered provincial mass screening programs. (Gale and Micco, 1993)
- The prevalence of undetected vision problems such as amblyopia, strabismus, and errors of refraction in preschool children is estimated to be 5-10 per cent. (Robinson, Bobier and Martin 1999/2000)
Adults with permanent vision loss have high needs in these areas. The 2001 PALS study reported that only 32% of adults with vision loss aged 15-64 had employment (part-time or full-time). This compares disfavourably with Canadians with all disabilities at 46%, and Canadians with no disability at 71%. In terms of mean income, persons with vision loss had a personal mean income of $19, 100, compared with $21, 500 for all people with disabilities, and $29,090 for the population of Canadians with no disabilities.