The impact of COVID-19 on vision loss across Canada



Canadian Council of the Blind and Fighting Blindness Canada release companion report: The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the eyes Health Canada

OTTAWA, ON, October 13, 2021 / CNW / – The addendum to the cost of vision loss and blindness in Canada The report (“the report) estimates that 1,437 Canadians lost their sight due to delayed eye exams and treatment in 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to challenge Canadian patients and the healthcare system . Almost all optometrist offices were closed during the first March lockdown in june 2020, with most offices restricting capacity for the remainder of 2020. There were almost three million fewer optometry visits in 2020 compared to 2019, putting millions of Canadians at serious risk loss of vision.

vision loss in Canada increases.

  • There were 143,000 fewer eye surgeries (47% decrease) performed overall Canada between March and June 2020.
  • It is estimated that 1,437 people lost their vision due to delayed eye exams and treatments in 2020.

The short and long term cost induced by the pandemic is going well in 2023.

  • It is expected to take two years to clear the additional backlog of cataract surgeries caused by the pandemic.
  • Between 2021 and 2023, it is estimated that a $ 129 million per year will be needed to clear the backlog.

The cost of vision loss in Canada goes well beyond the health system.

  • An increase in wait times for surgery will result in $ 1.3 billion increase in the cost of vision health over the next two and a half years.
  • Although $ 253.3 million of these costs are direct costs of the health system, $ 1.1 billion result from the loss of well-being.

All Canadians living with eye diseases have been affected by COVID-19. Some have had their diagnosis delayed, potentially missing or delaying an opportunity to receive treatment to stabilize their disease. Others have been slow to receive counseling and support to help them cope with the mental, physical and social effects of vision loss.

It is imperative to make eye health and rehabilitation services a population health priority. Visit and sign the petition calling on the Canadian government to renew its commitment to a national vision health plan today.


  • “We need to make eye health and rehabilitation a population health priority. It is essential that Canadians have access to treatment and receive an early diagnosis, ”says Louise Gilles, Past President, Canadian Council of the Blind. “Research shows that three quarters of the causes of vision loss in Canada are preventable, treatable or reversible. Processing delays and the backlog of appointments have and will continue to have long-term effects on vision health in Canada. “
  • “COVID-19 has touched and continues to affect all Canadians. This report shows the unnecessary impact of COVID-19 on the more than 8 million Canadians living with blinding eye disease that puts them at significant risk of going blind. We are calling for a national vision health plan, as this would have reduced vision loss now and in the future. »Said Doug earle, President and CEO, Fighting Blindness Canada.
  • “The COS was pleased to support this crucial initiative which helps us understand the impact of COVID-19 on the fight against blindness in Canada“said Dr. Colin mann, President, Canadian Ophthalmological Society.
  • “Regular and comprehensive eye exams are essential in combating vision loss in patients with Canada, “said Dr. Harry bohnsack, President, Canadian Association of Optometrists. “Vision and eye health problems are not always accompanied by recognizable symptoms, so there may be an increased risk to the patient if treatment is not initiated in a timely manner.”

About the report
The Canadian Council of the Blind, in partnership with Fight Blindness Canada, and key stakeholders, the Canadian Association of Optometrists and the Canadian Ophthalmological Society, conducted additional study to reveal the astonishing impact COVID-19 has had on eye health in Canada.
The Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB) engaged Deloitte Access Economics in december 2020 provide a contemporary estimate of the annual social and economic cost of vision loss (VL) and blindness in Canada. In support of this report, the CCB partnered with Fighting Blindness Canada and key partners, the Canadian Association of Optometrists and the Canadian Ophthalmological Society. The full report on the cost of vision loss and blindness in Canada using 2019 data was completed in May 2021. During the writing of this earlier document, it became evident that the COVID-19 pandemic had a major impact on the study’s findings. It was therefore decided to conduct a complementary study on the impact of the pandemic in 2020 on the prevalence and cost of VL. The conclusions of this study are presented in an addendum to the original report. Costs estimated in report reflect impact of COVID-19 from March to December 2020, highlighting aggregate pan-Canadian effects

About the Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB)
Canadian Council of the Blind is the voice of the blindâ„¢ in Canada, a member-based charity that brings together Canadians living with vision loss, the blind, deafblind and visually impaired. An advocacy for its members, the CCB works to promote a sense of purpose and self-esteem as well as a better quality of life. Based on belief in ABILITY, not disability The Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB) is a dynamic network of active members across Canada. Each chapter is unique to its geographic area and engages in a variety of social and recreational activities based on the interests of their local members. Visit or call 1-877-304-0968 for more information.

About Fighting Blindness Canada (FBC)
Fighting Blindness Canada (FBC) is the largest charitable funder of vision research in Canada. FBC has invested more than $ 40 million researching sight-saving remedies; and researching cures for blinding eye diseases. With the support of its generous donors, the FBC has funded more than 200 research grants that have led to more than 600 discoveries such as stem cell research, neuroprotective therapies, technological developments, pharmaceuticals and gene therapies. . Visit www.combattrelacécité.ca or call 1-800-461-3331 for more information.

About the Canadian Ophthalmological Society (COS)
The Canadian Ophthalmological Society is the recognized national authority for eye and vision care in Canada. As ophthalmologists and surgeons, we are committed to ensuring the delivery of optimal medical and surgical eye care for all Canadians by promoting excellence in ophthalmology and providing services to support our members in practice. Our members include over 900 ophthalmologists and 200 ophthalmology residents. We work collaboratively with government, other national and international specialty societies, our academic communities (ACUPO), our provincial and affiliate partners, and other eyecare professionals and patient groups to advocate for health policies in Canada in the field of eye and vision health. COS is an accredited and award-winning provider of continuing professional development (CPD) through the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC) and is affiliated with the Canadian Medical Association (CMA). Visit to learn more.

About the Canadian Association of Optometrists (CAO)
The Canadian Association of Optometrists (CAO) is the national voice for optometry, providing leadership and support to its members to improve the delivery of healthy eyes and a clear vision for all Canadians. Founded in 1941 and officially incorporated in 1948, CAO is dedicated to the collaborative advancement of the highest standards of primary eye care through the promotion of optimal vision and eye health, in partnership with all Canadians. Visit for more information. Visit for more information.

SOURCE Canadian Council of the Blind

For more information: or to request an interview, please contact: Alexa Bloom, Argyle Public Relationships, [email protected], 416-968-7311, ext. 301



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