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This Eye Problem Costs the Global Economy $244B a Year, According to a Study

The costs stem from lost productivity.

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Vision impairment caused by uncorrected myopia cost the global economy an estimated $244 billion in lost productivity in 2015, according to a new study published in the scientific journal Ophthalmology.

The research estimated that 538 million people had vision impairment resulting from uncorrected myopia, with the East Asia region, which includes China, bearing the greatest burden of productivity loss of around $150 billion. The South Asia and South East Asia regions also experienced significant productivity loss at over $30 billion each. This represents more than 1% of GDP in each of the three regions.

The authors say a one-off investment of around $20 billion would establish the services necessary to provide vision correction to all who need it, potentially leading to a significant annual saving in productivity.

Co–author Tim Fricke, from Brien Holden Vision Institute, said, “On current trends we expect there will be 2.6 billion people with myopia globally in 2020. While the majority will have access to corrective lenses such as spectacles and contact lenses, enabling them to have good vision, current service capacity will leave well over half a billion people unable to access an eye examination and appropriate correction. This includes around 54 million people classified as having mild vision impairment, who, although not formally recognised as being vision impaired, still experience a loss of utility, albeit relatively small, which is accounted for in this study.

“The impact of vision impairment on lives can be substantial, including affecting employment, education and social interaction. This study captures one element of that, demonstrating the scale of the economic burden. For a single health condition to result in a loss of over 1% of GDP is enormously important. The findings also serve to highlight the potential value in funding the interventions needed to eliminate this unnecessary impairment.”

A combination of factors explains the substantial burden in East Asia, said Professor Padmaja Sankaridurg, head of myopia at Brien Holden Vision Institute.

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“The high-density urban living with a focus on near based activities has resulted in high prevalence and also in a large number of people with inadequate visual correction,” Sankaridurg said.

Along with East Asia, other regions significantly impacted are South Asia and Southeast Asia, both estimated to suffer productivity loss of over $30 billion in 2015. The researchers conclude that people with myopia are “less likely to have adequate optical correction if they are older and live in a rural area of a less developed country.”

“Peak international eye care and health agencies, governments and international NGOs are working collaboratively to build the sustainable eye care systems that would address this need,” said Sankaridurg. “This research demonstrates a need for funding to be either prioritised or sourced, to allow the successful implementation of these efforts.”

The researchers note that lost productivity resulting from myopia-related vision impairment represents only part of the overall economic burden of myopia. Direct costs such as expenses related to eye examinations, refractive corrections and managing pathological consequences of myopia such as MMD, and related opportunity costs, are not covered in their analysis.

“Even without considering these other costs our analysis shows that the burden is substantial and the savings by implementing the services needed would be significant,” Sankaridurg said.

The study, “Potential Lost Productivity Resulting from the Global Burden of Myopia: Systematic Review, Meta-Analysis and Modelling,” was conducted by researchers from Brien Holden Vision Institute, University of New South Wales (Australia), African Vision Research Institute, University of KwaZulu Natal (South Africa) and Carey Business School at Johns Hopkins University. It was supported with funding from Brien Holden Vision Institute and the Vision Impact Institute.

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Since launching in 2014, INVISION has won 21 international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact INVISION's editors at editor@invisionmag.com.

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Optometry College Graduates Its First OD/MBA Student

She wanted a stronger understanding of the business side of optometry.

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Phillips

When Taylor Phillips graduated from the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry on May 10, she became the school’s first dual-degree doctor of optometry/master of business administration graduate, in a partnership with UAB’s Collat School of Business.

UAB’s OD/MBA dual-degree program is intended to give future optometrists a business foundation and education that will help them navigate their future as potential private practices owners and healthcare providers, the school said in a press release.

Phillips, a native of Gilbertown, AL, pursued the OD/MBA path to have a stronger understanding of the business side of optometry. She plans to enter private practice in rural and underserved Choctaw County upon completion of a yearlong residency in Tuscaloosa.

“In school, we learn clinical skills, develop strong patient interactions, understand the management of diseases and care, but we only learn about the top-line business aspects of our future career as optometrists,” Phillips said. “The completion of the OD/MBA program gave me the confidence to enter private practice, and I know it will help me give back to my community in a stronger way.”

Phillips completed her MBA courses in conjunction with her optometry curriculum and with students from other schools on UAB’s campus. Collat offers similar dual-degree paths for dental, medical, public health, engineering and health administration graduates as well.

While Phillips is the first OD/MBA graduate, several other students are currently enrolled in the program.

“The UAB MBA prepares professionals to lead and manage a business enterprise in today’s dynamic marketplace,” said Eric P. Jack, dean of the Collat School of Business.

“Research shows the MBA has been one of the most effective educational programs for changing the world by enabling leaders to build strong, high-performing organizations and by leveraging the power of markets. We’re proud of this novel collaboration between the School of Optometry and the Collat School of Business.”

Prospective students who are interested in learning more about the dual-degree paths offered through Collat School of Business can learn more here.

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8-Location Eyecare Practice Closes Its Doors

It had operated since 1959.

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Union Eye Care, an eight-location practice in Northeast Ohio, has closed its doors.

WOIO-TV in Cleveland reports that employees received an email on May 7 stating:

“The Board of Trustees made the decision that Union Eye Care Inc. will be filing for bankruptcy. We will be closing all eight stores, our terminal optical lab and headquarters permanently effective Wednesday May 8, 2019.”

The business opened in 1959.

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Its website lists locations in Akron, Brunswick, Cleveland, Cleveland Clinic, Garfield Heights, Mentor, North Olmsted and Parma.

WOIO reports that it was unable to reach Union Eye Care representatives by phone or email.

Read more at WOIO-TV

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Shopko Optical Acquisition Completed; 80 Stores to Become Freestanding Locations

The previous owner filed for bankruptcy.

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GREEN BAY, WI — Monarch Alternative Capital LP announced the completion of its previously announced acquisition of Shopko Optical.

The company expects to relocate nearly 80 of its current locations housed inside Shopko stores to freestanding locations, according to a press release. Shopko is a retail chain that recently announced plans to wind down its operations.

“We are excited to welcome Shopko Optical into our portfolio and to invest in the company’s growth as we move forward with our strategy,” said Andrew Herenstein, co-founder and managing principal of Monarch. “Monarch has a long, successful history of investing in great companies undergoing transitions and working alongside their leadership teams to build strong, vibrant businesses of the future.”

Jim Eisen, former president of Visionworks, is working as an operating partner with Monarch alongside the Shopko Optical team.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to join the Shopko Optical team,” Eisen said. “We are committed to continuing to provide quality patient care and outstanding service that our affiliated doctors of optometry and opticians have provided for over 40 years. It is an exciting time to be part of the Shopko Optical family.”

Over the course of 2019, Shopko Optical expects to relocate approximately 80 stores, while continuing to serve patients and customers in their existing locations during the transition.

“As we move forward with our plans to operate 80 freestanding optical locations, we continue to be dedicated to our patients, doctors, opticians and the communities we serve,” said Russ Steinhorst, CEO of Shopko. “We encourage anyone with questions to please get in touch with our team. We appreciate the continued patronage of our patients and their understanding during what we hope to be a continued smooth transition.”

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