Canadians' Eye Health in Focus: The Push for Universal Eye Care
As of September 22, 2023, Canada faces a significant health issue. Over eight million Canadians have one of four major eye conditions that can cause blindness: age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma.
Despite early treatment preventing 75% of vision problems, over 1.2 million Canadians live with vision loss.
Calling for Government Support
Stakeholders urge the Canadian government to allocate funds for eye care due to its substantial cost. Vision loss cost Canada $32.9 billion in 2019, projected to rise to $56 billion by 2050. Beyond finances, vision loss impacts individuals’ independence and finances.
Reasons Behind Vision Issues
The COVID-19 pandemic affected healthcare access and priorities, alongside an aging population and access challenges.
Making Healthcare Accessible
Uneven distribution of eye doctors persists, with urban areas having more. A 2020 study found only 1.70 optometrists per 10,000 people on average. Increasing eye doctors and insurance coverage may not solve the issue, as 34% of Canadians with vision issues are overdue for exams.
Special Challenges for Immigrants
Canadian immigrants, especially those from regions with high diabetes rates, face unique challenges. For instance, Indian immigration to Canada surged by 260% from 2013 to 2022, increasing the risk of eye problems among this group.
Helping Minority Groups
Governments should tailor eye care policies for minorities and provinces with higher vision problem rates. New immigrants may not have family doctors, impacting healthcare access.
To ease the healthcare system’s burden and address the vision problem, overcoming barriers like language, transportation, and integration is crucial for encouraging immigrants to prioritize eye health.