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Vision Problems Affect 2.2 Billion People Worldwide, Warns WHO

According to WHO experts, the organization wants the document to serve as a guideline for the next decade

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The World Health Organization’s (WHO) first report on vision warns that the excessive time children spend indoors is linked to an increase in eye conditions such as myopia.

The report published on Tuesday has not linked these increasing problems directly to the use of smartphones or any other kind of screen, the Efe news reported.

The document, presented by Spanish doctor Alarcos Cieza, WHO coordinator of blindness and deafness prevention, revealed that 2.2 billion people around the world suffer from some kind of eye problem.

Ageing populations in many countries and inadequate access to ophthalmological care, especially in low-income countries, partly explain these numbers, but the increase has also been influenced by lifestyle changes like sedentarism.

“We must encourage children to spend more time outdoors, because this is not only associated with preventing obesity but also myopia,” Dr. Cieza told Efe.

However, neither she nor the report directly advised spending less time on computers, televisions, mobiles or other devices. The focus was put on “exercising more” and outdoor activities.

The report, Cieza said, was prepared as a response to the increase in the number of people with visual impairment, including those suffering from glaucoma, which nowadays affects 76 million people, a number that could increase to 95 million by 2030.

WHO also revealed that almost half of current vision problems could have been prevented and urged countries to include ophthalmological care within health care systems.

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Logo of World Health Organization (WHO). Wikimedia Commons

“It is unacceptable that 65 million people are blind or have impaired sight when their vision could have been corrected overnight with a cataract operation, or that over 800 million struggle in everyday activities because they lack access to a pair of glasses,” WHO director-general, Thedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said in a statement.

According to the organization, a $14.3 billion investment in ophthalmological care is needed, especially in middle and low-income countries, a move that would end avoidable eye problems that affect one in seven people around the world.

The report emphasizes that vision problems are four times more likely to happen in developing countries in comparison to richer nations.

It also said that blindness reaches rates up to eight times higher in poor regions of the world.

Eating habits are also a factor, since, in type 2 diabetes, the number of retinopathy cases increases.

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With age, the possibilities of eyesight worsening increase, but WHO warned that these should not be seen as irreparable old age problems.

“It is not necessary to accept the loss of vision as a natural consequence or part of the aging process, because with the appropriate treatment, there is no reason to develop a visual impairment,” Cieza said.

The report has been published ahead of World Vision Day on 10 October.

According to WHO experts, the organization wants the document to serve as a guideline for the next decade. (IANS)

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Reduction in Air Pollution May Increase Life-Expectancy: Study

Findings of a Research indicate almost immediate and substantial effects on health outcomes followed reduced exposure to air pollution

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Pollution
Fortunately, reducing air Pollution can result in prompt and substantial health gains. Pixabay

Reductions in Air Pollution yielded fast and dramatic impacts on health-outcomes, as well as decreases in all-cause morbidity, a new study suggests.

The study, published in the journal Annals of the American Thoracic Society, reviewed interventions that have reduced air pollution at its source. It looked for outcomes and time to achieve those outcomes in several settings, finding that the improvements in health were striking.

Starting at week one of a ban on smoking in Ireland, for example, there was a 13 per cent drop in all-cause mortality, a 26 per cent reduction in ischemic heart disease, a 32 per cent reduction in stroke, and a 38 per cent reduction in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Interestingly, the greatest benefits in that case occurred among non-smokers.

“We knew there were benefits from pollution control, but the magnitude and relatively short time duration to accomplish them were impressive,” said lead author Dean Schraufnagel from the American Thoracic Society in the US.

“Our findings indicate almost immediate and substantial effects on health outcomes followed reduced exposure to air pollution. It’s critical that governments adopt and enforce WHO guidelines for air pollution immediately,” Schraufnagel added.

Pollution
Reductions in Air Pollution yielded fast and dramatic impacts on health-outcomes, as well as decreases in all-cause morbidity, a new study suggests. Pixabay

According to the researchers, In the US a 13-month closure of a steel mill in Utah resulted in reducing hospitalisations for pneumonia, pleurisy, bronchitis and asthma by half.

School absenteeism decreased by 40 per cent, and daily mortality fell by 16 per cent for every 100 µg/m3 PM10 (a pollutant) decrease.

Women who were pregnant during the mill closing were less likely to have premature births.

A 17-day ‘transportation strategy,’ in Atlanta, Georgia during the 1996 Olympic Games involved closing parts of the city to help athletes make it to their events on time, but also greatly decreased air pollution.

In the following four weeks, children’s visits for asthma to clinics dropped by more than 40 per cent and trips to emergency departments by 11 per cent. Hospitalizations for asthma decreased by 19 per cent.

WHO
Findings of the Study indicate almost immediate and substantial effects on health outcomes followed reduced exposure to air pollution. It’s critical that governments adopt and enforce WHO guidelines for air pollution immediately. Wikimedia Commons

Similarly, when China imposed factory and travel restrictions for the Beijing Olympics, lung function improved within two months, with fewer asthma-related physician visits and less cardiovascular mortality.

“Fortunately, reducing air pollution can result in prompt and substantial health gains. Sweeping policies affecting a whole country can reduce all-cause mortality within weeks,” Schraufnagel said.

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Local programmes, such as reducing traffic, have also promptly improved many health measures, said the study. (IANS)