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Uncorrected refractive error
  1. C A McCarty
  1. Correspondence to: Catherine A McCarty PhD, MPH, Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation, Center for Human Genetics, 1000 North Oak Avenue (ML1), Marshfield, WI 54449, USA; mccarty.catherine{at}

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We need to act now to eliminate preventable blindness by the year 2020

In 1997, the World Health Organization set itself an ambitious goal to eliminate avoidable blindness in the world by 2020, with one of the five main priorities being refractive errors.1,2 A recent review of the impact of Vision 2020 on preventable blindness, other than uncorrected refractive errors, indicates that current estimates of global blindness are less than projected, and thus the trend is in the right direction to meet the Vision 2020 goal for the other conditions.3 The article by Fotouhi et al in this month’s issue of BJO (p 534) indicates that we are not doing so well on meeting the goal to eliminate vision impairment caused by uncorrected refractive error in Tehran. At this point, perhaps readers are thinking that the problem of uncorrected refractive error is unique to countries with relatively poorer healthcare systems. Let us consider the paper by Fotouhi et al in the global context of vision impairment caused by refractive errors.

A PubMed search in January 2006 using the search strategy “uncorrected refractive error AND epidemiology” and “undercorrected refractive error AND epidemiology” revealed 19 population based studies of uncorrected refractive errors,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,

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