Lack of Access to Vision Loss Costs Canadians $19 billion per year


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OTTAWA, ONJune 26, 2020 – Despite concerted action over the past 30 years, Canadian and health systems worldwide face significant challenges in meeting the current and projected eye care needs.

Vision loss costs Canadians $19 billion/year and the impact of major eye diseases and trauma disproportionately impact minority communities in Canada. The federal government signed the World Health Organization’s first resolution on Universal Eye Health that will be presented at the next World Health Assembly this year, however, Canada has not taken any action to increase vision health access in our country.

The Canadian Ophthalmological Society (COS) hosted the national launch of the World Health Organization’s first World Report on Vision is calling upon the Canadian government to take action. “The federal government should extend universal access to government-funded eye services for Canadians of all ages; to eliminate barrier to access for medically necessary eye drugs; eliminate drug shortages for critical eye care medicines; and expand public infrastructure for tele-ophthalmology,” Said Dr. Yvonne Buys, President of the COS, “Still too many Canadians suffer from preventable or treatable vision loss at a substantial cost to them individually and us as a society.”

World Health Organization’s first World Report on Vision outlines the magnitude of the problem where at least 1 billion people around the world currently live with vision loss that could have been prevented. The WHO has called for governments to make eye care an integral part of universal health coverage; implement integrated people-centred eye care in health systems; promote high-quality research; monitor trends and evaluate progress; raise awareness, and engage and empower people and communities.

About the Canadian Ophthalmological Society
The Canadian Ophthalmological Society (COS) is the national, recognized authority on eye and vision care in Canada. As eye physicians and surgeons, we are committed to assuring the provision of optimal medical and surgical eye care for all Canadians by promoting excellence in ophthalmology and by providing services to support our members in practice. Our membership includes over 900 ophthalmologists and 200 ophthalmology residents. We work collaboratively with government, other national and international specialty societies, our academic communities (ACUPO), our provincial partners and affiliates and other eye care professionals and patient groups to advocate for health policy in Canada in the area of eye and vision health. COS is an accredited, award-winning provider of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) through the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC) and is an affiliate of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA). For more information, visit

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