It is through research studies that we know uncorrected refractive error is the leading cause of vision impairment globally and the second leading cause of blindness

How does research help us provide eye care services?

Our research helps to quantify the nature and extent of vision impairment as well as the associated economic and quality of life impacts. Research defines the type and scale of problems we aim to fix, guiding development strategies, program priorities and project design.

Once programs are established, ongoing research evaluates the effectiveness of our methods and the scale of our impact, enabling iterative project design, and improving eye care outcomes worldwide. Ongoing research ensures we are doing the right things to improve eye care and reduce poverty.

Our research teams work to engage with communities to ensure that studies are appropriate for, and produce results relevant to, each community.

What does our research focus on?

Our research builds our knowledge of vision impairment in different locations and evaluates every program we implement. Study types, and completed examples, include:

PNG has one of the highest rates of blindness in the world

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Quality of life and productivity gains follow near vision correction

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  • Models of vision care studies
    • E.g. Benefits of integrated school eye health vs vertical school eye health program in Nigeria
    • E.g. 3-D printed spectacles in Australia; Models of vision care study in Australia
    • E.g. Willingness to pay for spectacles in Cambodian adults; Willingness to pay for spectacles in Cambodian children
    • E.g. Effectiveness of teacher-led school-based eye health programs in Tanzania and Vietnam
  • Assessments of workforce training
    • E.g. Assessment of refraction training in Cambodia; Regional models and workforce training in Australia
  • Outcome and effectiveness studies
    • E.g. Vision centre effectiveness studies in Cambodia, Papua New Guinea, Sri Lanka;
    • E.g. Cataract outcomes in Nigeria
    • E.g. East Africa child eye health monitoring exercise in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda
    • E.g. Assessment of quality of refractive care in Vietnam
    • E.g. Service quality improvement study in Australia
  • Optometry development assessments
    • E.g. Malawi, Mozambique, Vietnam
  • Low vision services situation analyses

Mzuzu University graduates report on experience as optometrists

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  • Quality of life studies
  • Knowledge, attitude and practice (KAP) studies
  • Patient experience of eye health services studies
    • E.g. Australia, China
  • Access to services
    • E.g. Cambodia
    • E.g. Spectacle uptake in vision centres in Malawi
  • Spectacle compliance studies
    • E.g. Malawi, Nigeria

Health promotion in schools improves eye health ‘literacy’ in children

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"Uncorrected vision impairment is a major global public health issue. The prevalence of both myopia (short-sightedness) and presbyopia (aging sight) are increasing dramatically worldwide. Research is important in determining the magnitude and causes of ocular problems and guiding how we effectively address these challenges. Community-level eye health education and promotion is crucial for uptake of services including early identification and treatment of avoidable causes of vision impairment. "

Prakash Paudel - Research Officer, Australia

Global Figures and Statistics

  • The World Health Organization estimates that at least 2.2 billion people have a vision impairment or blindness, of whom at least 1 billion have a vision impairment that could have been prevented or has yet to be addressed1
  • Of the 1 billion people the WHO estimate to have unaddressed vision impairment:
    • 124 million are vision impaired due to distance uncorrected refractive error2
    • 826 million are vision impaired due to uncorrected presbyopia (an age-related difficulty of focusing on near objects)3
    • That is, most vision impairment exists simply because people cannot access a reliable eye examination and appropriate spectacles1,2,3
  • 80% of all vision impairment globally is considered avoidable1,2
  • 90% of vision impaired people live in low-resource settings1,2,3
  • Vision impairment from uncorrected myopia cost the global economy US$244 billion in lost productivity in 20154


  1. World Health Organization. World Report on Vision. (World Health Organization, 2019).
  2. Flaxman et al. Global causes of blindness and distance vision impairment 1990–2020: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Lancet Global Health. 2017;5(12):e1221-34
  3. Fricke TR, Tahhan N, Resnikoff S, et al. Global Prevalence of Presbyopia and Vision Impairment from Uncorrected Presbyopia. Ophthalmology 2018;125(10):1492–9.
  4. Naidoo KS, Fricke TR, Frick KD, et al. Potential lost productivity resulting from the global burden of myopia: systematic review, meta-analysis and modelling. Ophthalmology. 2019;126:338-46.

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Acknowledgement of Country

Brien Holden Foundation acknowledges the traditional Aboriginal custodians of the many lands that we live and work on, and their continuing connection to Country and culture.

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