For the approximately 314 million people with visual impairment, 12 million of whom are children, the presence of visual dysfunction often leads to reduced quality of life, financial burdens, and even increased mortality. Many forms of visual loss are irreversible and lack efficacious treatment options (e.g. age-related macular degeneration, or AMD), and those that are treatable are costly to treat and often require surgical intervention (e.g. age-related cataract, or ARC). The World Health Organization has prioritized ten of the most commonly occurring and/or damaging eye diseases into a list of Priority Eye Diseases that should receive special attention from the medical, research, and non-governmental (NGO) communities. Conditions on this list differ in terms of the severity of visual dysfunction produced, the number of people impacted worldwide, and the cost and difficulty of treatment. Some conditions, such as trachoma and onchocerciasis, are present largely in the developing world and occur secondarily to a different primary infection, such as chlamydia or a parasitic infection. Other conditions on the list, such as AMD and ARC, are responsible for a high proportion of blindness world wide and are difficult or particularly expensive to treat. Consequently, it is not surprising that research has already begun to address the prevention of these latter diseases.
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