Vision loss (VL) has wide-ranging implications for individuals, communities, and societies. At the individual level, it affects work, income, self-esteem, dignity, family relationships, the ability to drive, leisure activities, community involvement, and the activities of daily living. People who lose their vision may not enjoy full access to the same rights and benefits that other Canadians enjoy, and they may experience social isolation and stigma.
In spite of the impact that VL has on society and the economy, there has been no recent data on either the prevalence or cost of VL in Canada. To plan effectively for the provision of services for people with VL, it’s essential that we have current, accurate estimates on the cost of VL in Canada, including a detailed analysis of the individual components of these costs.
1.2 million Canadians live with vision loss while over 8 million have vision-threatening eye diseases.
Regular eye exams prevent blindness. Diagnosed early enough, research-delivered treatments can stabilize your sight.
Vision loss cost Canadian individuals and governments a staggering $32.9 billion in 2019.
To this end, the Canadian Council of the Blind commissioned Deloitte Access Economics, a world-renowned consultancy with expertise in disease prevalence and health economics, to conduct an updated assessment on the prevalence and cost of VL in Canada using 2019 data. The results of this study reveal that VL cost Canadian individuals and governments a staggering $32.9 billion in 2019. This consists of a cost to the health care system of $9.5 billion, productivity losses of $4.2 billion due primarily to reduced workforce participation, other costs of $1.8 billion and a cost of lost well-being of $17.4 billion. This study also determined that there are 1.2 million Canadians living with VL, representing 3.2 percent of the total population. The number of people with VL is projected to increase to two million by 2050.
The high costs and growing prevalence of VL in Canada are concerning since it’s estimated that 75 percent of VL is either preventable or treatable. Federal leadership and agenda-setting are required to implement policies that address the issue head-on and that build a framework for coordinated action that focuses on the multifaceted nature of the issue. A comprehensive and national plan for vision health in Canada is not only desirable, rational, and ethical, but also long overdue.