International Council of Opthalmology
Twitter  Facebook  YouTube
August 2017
Ico Insight : News, Resources, and Events fort he World’s Ophthalmologists

Latest Projections on Global Blindness and Low Vision Published

Worldwide today, there are an estimated 36 million cases of blindness and 217 million people with moderate or severe visual impairment (MSVI), according to a study published 2 August in The Lancet Global Health journal. The Vision Loss Expert Group––the authors of the study––forecast there will be almost 115 million cases of blindness and 588 million people with MSVI in 2050.

Key findings are: 

  • 36 million people are blind
  • 217 million people have severe or moderate visual impairment (distance) 
  • 253 million people visually impaired 
  • 1.1 billion people with near-vision impairment 
  • 89% of visually impaired people live in low and middle-income countries 
  • 55% of visually impaired people are women
  • Although the absolute numbers are increasing, the age-standardized prevalence of impairment has dropped significantly from 4.58% in 1990 to 3.38% in 2015.

Although prevalence rates of blindness and vision impairment have decreased in recent years, there is no room for complacency, as the number with visual impairment is expected to increase as the world population grows and ages.

“The new estimates emphasize the need for coordinated eye health service delivery, with particular attention to cataract and refractive error,” says Prof. Hugh Taylor, ICO President and one of the authors of the study.

This article—the first among a series of papers appearing on the new data––reflects positively on the efforts of the global eye health sector over the years.

Building on Statistics: Valuable New Resources from IAPB

The data in the Vision Loss Expert Group study affirms that the efforts of the ICO, our Member societies, and partner NGOs is working. But how do we ensure that these estimates fit into planning and advocacy work with governments across the world?

New resources from the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) take this information and aim to serve as powerful tools for advocacy, planning, and fundraising: 

  • IAPB Vision Atlas
    The IAPB Vision Atlas brings together the latest data and evidence related to avoidable blindness and sight loss; tells the story behind the numbers; presents solutions and good practice; highlights the opportunities to eliminate some blinding conditions; and warns of emerging threats that, if ignored, could reverse the progress that has been made in reducing prevalence over the past 25 years.

    The IAPB Vision Atlas, with the latest published estimates from Vision Loss Expert Group and updated country indicator data, goes live on World Sight Day: 12 October 2017

  • Infographics
    Download IAPB infographics for visual representations of important takeaways from the Vision Loss Expert Group study. Each infographic quickly and clearly presents key data from The Lancet article.


Submit Your Abstracts for Presentation at WOC2018

The Scientific Program Committee is now accepting online submission of abstracts at: for presentation at the 2018 World Ophthalmology Congress® (WOC) of the International Council of Ophthalmology, 16–19 June 2018, in Barcelona, Spain.

Abstracts may be submitted in English or Spanish, and the deadline for submission is 1 December 2017. Primary authors will be notified if their abstracts have been accepted by late February 2018.

The following types of abstract presentations will be considered: 

  • Free Papers 
  • E-Posters and Poster Pods 
  • E-Videos 
  • Educational Courses 
  • Instruction Courses

Read the Abstract Submission Guidelines (available in English and Spanish) to learn more about each abstract presentation type, as well as instruction on how to prepare and submit an abstract. View a sample abstract.

For detailed information about WOC2018 and to register, go to:

ICO World Ophthalmology Roundtable on Leadership Development

  • Saturday, 11 November 2017
  • 12:00–13:45
  • Loews Hotel, Louisiana Ballroom, New Orleans

Save the date and join the ICO for the 2017 World Ophthalmology Roundtable on Leadership Development (WORLD) at the American Academy of Ophthalmology annual meeting in New Orleans.

Each year, WORLD welcomes a growing number of participants who are eager to engage in stimulating, lively, and thoughtful conversation on a wide-range of intriguing subjects. Information about this year’s speakers and topics will be presented in a later issue of ICO Insight.

Register for WORLD and join us for a light lunch at 11:30, by going to:

Conference for Ophthalmic Educators in New Orleans

Participants at the Conference for Educators at AAO 2016 in Chicago. Participants at the Conference for Educators at AAO 2016 in Chicago.

The ICO will present its next Conference for Educators on 11 November 2017 from 14:00–17:30 at the American Academy of Ophthalmology annual meeting in New Orleans.

In addition to interactive workshops, the Conference––held in the Ernest M. Morial Convention Center in room 346–347––offers expert instruction and group discussion for ophthalmic educators. Educators of ophthalmology residents, fellows, medical students, CME, and allied ophthalmic personnel will learn about the latest tools and practice techniques of modern education.

Sign up to receive Conference updates at:

PAAO Congress Awards and Honors

The ICO presented multiple sessions at the August 2017 Pan-American Association of Ophthalmology (PAAO) Congress in Lima, Peru. The ICO also hosted a popular reception for ICO Member societies, ICO Examinations and Fellowships, and the ICO Ophthalmic Educators Group (ICO-OEG), which included brief presentations and welcome remarks from ICO President Prof. Hugh Taylor.

At the PAAO Opening Ceremony, awards and honors were presented to the following individuals for their contributions to ophthalmology: 

  • ICO Mark Tso Golden Apple Award
    ‚ÄčRafael Sánchez Fontán, MD (Mexico)
  • Gradle Medal for Good Teaching
    The eLearning Committee:
    Helena P. Filipe, MD (Portugal)
    Eduardo Mayorga, MD (Argentina)
    Eduardo Viteri Coronel, MD (Ecuador)

  • Benjamin F. Boyd Humanitarian Award
    Van Charles Lansingh, MD (Mexico)

  • Lions / PAAO Award for Blindness Prevention
    Mercedes Zambrano Paco, MD (Peru)

  • Paul Kayser / RRF Global Award
    Jennifer Kang-Mieler, PhD (USA)
    Illinois Insititue of Technology-Biomedical Engineering (USA)

  • Troutman-Véronneau Prize
    Juan Carlos Serna Ojeda, MD (Mexico)

  • Edward Maumenee Medal for Distinguished Services
    William C. De La Peña, MD (USA)
    Bruce E. Spivey, MD (USA)

An Eye Towards the Future: Emerging Leaders Initiative

The ICO Emerging Leaders Initiative seeks to broaden development opportunities for mid-career ophthalmologists who are seeking to build international networks and expand their leadership skills.

Through the Initiative, which is part of the ICO 2017–2020 Strategic Plan, the ICO will collaborate with Member societies to provide a forum to develop activities and programs to meet the evolving needs of ophthalmologists who may have previously participated in Leadership Development Programs or other Young Ophthalmologist groups.

The Initiative will offer opportunities for networking, mentorship, and leadership skill improvement, especially for those interested in ICO activities or in becoming a future ophthalmic society leader.

More information about the Emerging Leaders Initiative will be forthcoming, and those interested are invited to email:

Honduran Ophthalmology Society: Great Needs, Limited Resources

The Honduran Ophthalmology Society notes that improving ocular health for a population of 8.5 million is a considerable challenge, especially in a country where there is a single residency program, no fellowship training, one public hospital, and a 1 to 100,000 ophthalmologist per person ratio.

Allied health professionals assist with refractions in Honduras, but with 85 registered ophthalmologists in the entire country––and only 20 with subspecialty training––obstacles to quality care are many, such as general ophthalmologists having to perform highly specialized surgeries, significant wait times for non-emergency cases, and lack of an eye bank.

The Honduran Ophthalmology Society––welcomed this year as a new ICO Member society––has identified critical gaps and is taking steps to promote ophthalmic education for pre-med and medical students, implement safety regulations in the prescription of antibiotic and steroid eyedrops, and pursue additional efforts to enhance eye health for Honduran patients.

Copyright © 2020 International Council of Ophthalmology. All rights reserved.