New research unveiled on World Sight Day reveals that enhancing eye health could contribute significantly to Kenya’s economy, surpassing the coffee market’s impact. Preventable vision impairment costs the nation approximately Sh22.3 billion annually, nearly double the income generated by Kenya’s coffee market.
The ‘Love Your Eyes campaign’ emphasizes that improved eye health enhances productivity and calls on business leaders to prioritize eye health in workplace well-being. “The primary objective this World Sight Day is to make eye health a top priority in most workplaces,” said Optom Opiyo Victor, President of the Optometrists Association of Kenya (OAK).
Around 750,000 Kenyans suffer from severe vision impairment, and they should not be neglected. With the right intervention, these numbers can significantly decrease, putting Kenya on the right path.
A study conducted by the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) and Kevin Frick from Johns Hopkins calculated the expenses related to preventable vision loss among people over 50. With the increasing prevalence of service industries and office-based jobs involving prolonged screen use, the future economy will be shaped by technology.
However, without proper precautions, this can lead to eye strain and negatively impact eye health. Sight loss incurs a global cost of US$411 billion each year, according to the Lancet Global Health Commission on Global Eye Health.
Approximately 30 percent of individuals with vision loss experience reduced employment opportunities, with women, rural communities, and ethnic minority groups disproportionately affected. Remarkably, 90 percent of vision loss is preventable through early detection and treatment.
Further research from the Fred Hollows Foundation showed that among 19 countries surveyed, Kenya boasts the highest estimated return on investment (ROI) for cataract surgery at Sh7,638.8, the highest ROI for myopia treatment at Sh2,247.5, and presbyopia treatment at Sh1,924.4.
On World Sight Day, the IAPB aimed to shift the Kenyan spotlight toward workplaces and their commitment to eye health, which could unlock the full potential of employees and employers alike.
“Business leaders have played a crucial role in promoting workplace well-being, from mental health to menopause,” noted Peter Holland, CEO of IAPB and Love Your Eyes campaigns.
“Today, World Sight Day offers an opportunity for employers to incorporate eye health into their well-being agenda and encourage employees to cherish their eyes,” he added.