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Vision problems in Europe - Statistics & Facts

Vision impairment is a common problem in Europe. Coupled with an aging population across the continent, the prevalence of such problems may increase in the future. Eyesight impairments can range from slight vision abnormalities to complete blindness. Common causes of sight loss include refractive disorders, cataracts, macular degeneration, and glaucoma. In Western Europe alone, there were over 8.5 million people affected with moderate-severe vision loss as a result of refractive disorders. However, the Eastern Europe region has the highest prevalence of eye problems in Europe. In that region in 2020, almost 7.5 percent of the population were affected with a near vision impairment, while 3.6 percent had moderate-severe vision loss and two percent had a mild vision affliction.

Eyecare in Europe

In many European countries, over half of the population wears eyeglasses, and in some countries the share reaches over two-thirds. The wearing of contact lenses across Europe is generally much lower than the share that wears glasses. In a survey conducted in 2020, Sweden and North Macedonia had the highest proportion of individuals wearing contact lenses with approximately 30 percent doing so. Across Europe, usually, a combination of optometrists and ophthalmologists provides eye examinations for patients. The difference between the two types of professionals is that ophthalmologists are qualified medical doctors who specialize in eye care, and while optometrists provide primary care relating to the eye such as testing, diagnosis, and correction they are not medical doctors.

COVID-19 impact

As the COVID-19 pandemic forced millions of people around the world to work from home, the strain on the eyes has particularly increased. Eye health professionals were worried about people spending much more time in front of screens and potentially damaging the long-term health of their eyes. Over 40 percent of people surveyed in the UK believed their eye conditions worsened during the lockdown as a result of the pandemic because of limited access to treatment services. Furthermore, almost a fifth of Russians were unable to have a yearly eye exam in 2020 because of COVID-19. In regards to eyewear behaviors, around a third of Brits have reported wearing their contact lenses less since the COVID-19 pandemic began, while 28 percent of Russians and 20 percent of Germans also reported this since then.

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