The Observatory

Global vision loss gender gap remains

As we mark International Women’s Day for 2021, it’s important to be reminded that around the globe, blindness and vision loss continues to impact women at greater rates than men.

In industrialised countries this is largely because women live longer than men, but in non-industrialised settings, it is often because women do not get to access eye health services with the same frequency as men.

This has far-reaching implications not just for the women affected, but also for their families and carers, the community as a whole and the global effort towards achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

The recently released Lancet Global Health Commission on Global Eye Health: Vision Beyond 2020 found there are more women than men living with blindness and vision loss in all regions of the world, estimating that for every 100 men with blindness or vision loss, there are 108 women who are blind and 112 women who have vision loss.

Projections also indicate that without intervention, this gap will only grow over the next 30 years.

Graph indicating rates of blindness among women will increase at a greater rate than those for men over the next 50 years
Forecast to 2050 of global cases of blindness and vision impairment by gender (from the Lancet)

Even after allowing for women’s higher life expectancy, greater vision loss in women continues to be socially determined.

Some groups of women have difficulty accessing eye care, particularly in Australia’s neighbourhood of southeast Asia.

The eye health and low vision sector in Australia has a demonstrated history of work in the region and continues to strive to not just eliminate avoidable blindness, but to ensure the gender gap in eye care is closed.

Learn more about how our members are working on this issue: