The number of blind people across the world is anticipated to triple within the next four decades according to researchers.
Writing in Lancet Global Health, they predict cases will rise from 36 million to 115 million by 2050, if treatment is not improved by better funding.
The percentage of the world’s population with visual impairments is actually falling, according to the study, but because the global population is growing and more people are living well into old age, researchers predict the number of people with sight problems will soar in the coming decades.
Analysis of data from 188 countries suggests there are more than 200 million people with moderate to severe vision impairment.
That figure is expected to rise to more than 550 million by 2050.
The worst affected areas for visual impairment are in South and East Asia. Parts of sub-Saharan Africa also have particularly high rates.
The study calls for better investment in treatments, such as cataract surgery, and ensuring people have access to appropriate vision-correcting glasses.
- 11.7 million people in South Asia
6.2 million people in East Asia
3.5 million people in South East Asia
more than 4% of the population in parts of sub-Saharan Africa
less than 0.5% of the population of Western Europe