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Here's A Look at Eye Care Coverage Around the World

Do you need glasses, but you don't have eye care coverage?

Then you might want to look the other way for a minute, because we're going to discuss a new global ranking of countries that make it easy to see an eye doctor!

British online optician Mister Spex has released The World Eye Care Coverage Index, which offers some insight into eye care access in 65 countries.

Before we get to the list, however, it's important to mention how necessary eye care can be for people around the globe. The World Health Organization estimates 929 million people worldwide will be living with some sort a vision impairment by 2020 -- a full 27% increase since 2010!

A study by the Brien Holden Vision Institute, the South Wales Australia University and the Eye Research Institute in Singapore, meanwhile, predicts more than 4.1 billion people around the world will have myopia** by 2050. (In comparison, 1.4 billion people globally were myopic in 2001.)

Poor eyesight can be costly, leading to an estimated $760 billion in indirect global losses including jobs, education, and lost tax revenue. So much for being a workplace visionary, right? But let's not look beyond the current quarter.

Screens aren't helping matters, either. In fact, our near-constant use of devices (or more likely, our refusal to take adequate breaks from technology use) is being blamed in part for the expected increase in global myopia rates. Our children are at particular risk of developing myopia.

And let's not forget annoying middle age, when we must begin lifting our glasses off our noses (if we're lucky enough to have glasses) in order to read the fine print. In the blink of an eye, we've turned into Fred Armisen's character in Portlandia who is suddenly reading like an old person and having a hard time accepting it.


Now that we can see a few of the problems poor vision creates, let's get to the list of the top ten countries where citizens who need eye care have the easiest access to it!

According to The World Eye Care Coverage Index, the top ten countries for access to eye care for those who need it are Norway, Italy, Japan, Ireland, Netherlands, France, Finland, Germany, New Zealand and Saudi Arabia.

The United States ranks 40th on the list, between Poland and Argentina. Nearly 7% of Americans have no access to eye care coverage, while more than half of the U.S. population (53%) uses glasses. 10% of Americans wear contacts. (Another 5.2% of Americans have opted for laser surgery, the highest percentage of any country on the list.)

It's a fascinating report that you can access here. I'll let you go see the light on your own; I need to go find my reading glasses and come to terms with middle age.

** Myopia, or shortsightedness, means not being able to see things at a distance very clearly.


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