The Cost of Vision Loss in Canada

Stop the crisis of preventable blindness

Over 1.2 million Canadians are blind, deaf-blind, or partially sighted, and the number of Canadians living with vision loss (VL) is growing everyday. This has profound implications for individuals communities, the economy, and our healthcare system. The Cost of Vision Loss and Blindness in Canada, is a new report that provides an up-to-date assessment of the prevalence and cost of vision.

The growing VL crisis affects all Canadians and will continue to do so. The report outlines the financial impact vision loss has on individual, Canadian families, and our health system. This is an urgent crisis, and with the findings of this report, it is clear that a National Vision Health Plan is needed to provide access to eye exams, therapies, prevention measures and funding for ongoing research.

The Cost of Vision Loss and Blindness in Canada is a joint initiative of the Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB), Fighting Blindness Canada (FBC), the Canadian Association of Optometrists (CAO), and the Canadian Ophthalmological Society (COS).

For more information, or to read the full report, please visit

Cost of Vision Loss & Blindness Summit

Cost of Vision Loss & Blindness Summit
Wednesday, May 26, 2021, 2 – 3:45 pm ET


Webinar logo

In 2009 a study was undertaken to uncover the cost of vision loss in Canada. In the past ten years, much has changed in vision care in Canada. This year, the Canadian Council of the Blind and Fighting Blindness Canada (FBC) have partnered on a landmark study to evaluate how the cost of vision loss and blindness has changed. Join us to learn about the results of the report and hear perspectives of this data from optometry, ophthalmology and patient advocates.

Featured speakers:
Dr. Keith Gordon, Senior Researcher, Canadian Council of the Blind
Dr. Michael Nelson, President of the Canadian Association of Optometrists
Dr. Colin Mann, President of the Canadian Ophthalmology Society
Louise Gillis, President of the Canadian Council of the Blind
Doug Earle, President & CEO of Fighting Blindness Canada

This program is presented by Bell Canada.

There will be time for Q&A. Please send questions in advance to [email protected]

This program is presented by Bell Canada.

Event Sponsors


The Cost of Vision Loss & Blindness in Canada

New report reveals vision loss costs Canada almost $33 billion annually

The Canadian Council of the Blind, partnering with Fighting Blindness Canada, and key partners, the Canadian Association of Optometrists and the Canadian Ophthalmological Society, commissioned new research, The Cost of Vision loss and Blindness in Canada, from Deloitte Access Economics, to identify Canada’s emerging crisis of preventable blindness.

TORONTO, May 5, 2021 /CNW/ – Released today, a new report reveals the emerging crisis of preventable blindness in Canada, totalling almost $33 billion and impacting all Canadians– including individuals, families and governments.

Living with vision loss negatively impacts an individual’s financial health and often represents a loss of independence affecting their quality of life. As Canada’s population ages, the main drivers of vision loss are more prevalent and will increasingly impact Canada’s health system and economy.

The Cost of Vision Loss in Canada Report (“the Report”) shows 1.2 million Canadians are living with vision loss, with many facing a lack of investment in services and supports that impact them to live life to its fullest potential. This number is expected to grow to 2 million people by 2050, which is concerning given 75 percent of vision loss is either reversible, preventable or treatable if caught early.

The Report revealed the costs that Canadians with vision loss experienced in 2019 as:

  • Direct health care costs – $9.5 billion
  • Indirect health care & other costs – $6.1 billion
  • Cost of well-being – $17.4 billion

“The direct health care costs highlight the need to reduce the progression of eye diseases and vision loss through preventive health measures,” said Keith Gordon, Ph.D., the principal investigator of the Report. “The research demonstrates that the affected individuals and their families primarily bear 65% of the costs of living with vision loss.”  

Federal government leadership for families impacted by vision loss is long overdue.
In 2003, the Government of Canada committed to the World Health Organization (WHO) to develop a Vision Health Plan for Canada by 2007. Despite this commitment, there is no vision care plan for Canada.

Beyond the Vision Health Plan, the federal government must also ensure the Canadian health care system and the provinces and territorial governments can meet the growing need for eye care services. There is a need to slow the progression of vision loss and the incidence of eye disease through preventive health.

When governments cover the costs of comprehensive eye examinations, this leads to early detection and diagnosis, with some individuals receiving research-delivered treatments that can stabilize their sight.

Unfortunately, public coverage for comprehensive eye exams differs dependent on where you live in Canada.  This lack of public coverage is compounded by limited vision health coverage in workplace benefits programs. 

New investments in research, treatments and assistive technologies have made significant contributions to the quality of life of those living with vision loss. Advancements, such as cataract surgery, anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (anti-VEGF) injections and specialized software for the visually impaired, have enabled many individuals with vision loss to enjoy daily activities they had previously found difficult or impossible.

Access and investment into new treatments, programs and technology can stabilize sight helping many Canadians today and in the future.

To learn more about the results of the Report and hear perspectives of this data from optometry, ophthalmology and patient advocates, register for Cost of Vision Loss and Blindness Summit on May 26, 2021.

About the Canadian Council of the Blind
About Fighting Blindness Canada

About the Canadian Association of Optometrists
About Canadian Ophthalmological Society

SOURCE Canadian Council of the Blind

The world wants to hear your voice, be an active part of the World Blindness Summit!

Four days in which blind and visually impaired people will talk about technology, education, employment, development, challenges, opportunities, future, sustainability, inclusion, reconstruction… and where great experts from around the world will be present … but participants will be the real protagonists! 

 Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you expect from this summit. Send us a 30 second video in English, French or Spanish and we will share it, on our social media and during the World Blindness Summit. 

We would have loved for all of us to meet in Madrid… but since it is not possible, let’s use the technology we have to put voice and face together. 

Remember that by sending us the videos you are authorising the Organización Nacional de Ciegos Españoles ( ONCE) (Spanish national organisation of the blind) to use them in their media and communication channels in order to improve the image of people with disabilities around the world, and in connection with the World Blindness Summit Madrid 2021.  It may be used in as many media as deemed appropriate without any time or geographical limitation. 

Send your video to [email protected] / +34 600 53 94 07

Approval of Luxturna Needs You

The words Approve Luxturna on a white banner over a blue and white picture of a labratory.

These are amazing times … a gene therapy can restore sight.

And now you can help to restore sight for someone going blind. Here is how…

42 Canadians are counting on you. Their blindness is caused because their RPE65 gene is not functioning, and they are losing approximately 10,000 precious light sensing eye cells a day.

And time is growing short for these Canadians. It is taking 18 to 24 months for the drug approval process to slowly figure out if they will public fund Luxturna in your province. Some of these Canadians may not have enough light sensing eye cells left by the time a decision is made.

Please add your voice by sending an email to your Premier. We must accelerate the negotiations for public health care to fund Luxturna. We must set the precedent for future vision treatments that they will be funded too.

Health Canada approved Luxturna as a treatment in Canada in October 2020. A few weeks later, the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health (CADTH) and in Quebec, l’Institut national d’excellence en santé et en services sociaux (INESSS) recommended Luxturna for public health care funding.

The next step is the pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance (pCPA) to negotiate a deal on Luxturna. pCPA is an alliance of the provincial, territorial and federal governments that negotiates these deals that lead the way to public health care funding of a treatment.

BUT pCPA has not started the Luxturna negotiations for over 5 months.

Time = Sight!

We just can’t let a bureaucratic process mean someone goes blind when a treatment is available. We’ve waited too long for this first treatment. We need to encourage more treatments to reach Canadians by setting the precedent with Luxturna that all treatments can be funded by public health care.

That’s why we launched our latest “Approve Luxturna” Advocacy Campaign.

We are asking all of our supporters to send an email to the Premier, local representatives and the pCPA and demand action now.

Please take one minute and add your name here:

Canadian Accessible Election TeleTownHall 2021

Accessibility and Inclusion 2021

Getting Ready for a Canadian Federal Election During a Pandemic

Sterling Creations and the Canadian Council of the Blind in collaboration with Elections Canada are pleased to invite you to join a country wide Town Hall Webinar on Saturday, May 29, 2021 via Zoom Webinar. 

You are invited to a Zoom webinar.

Topic: Canadian Accessible Elections Town Hall 2021

When: May 29, 2021 10:00 AM Vancouver

Register in advance for this webinar:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

For any questions please email the Canadian Accessible Elections Town Hall 2021 organizing committee at

[email protected]

A Senior representative from Elections Canada will be present.  They will provide an outline of the multi-disability accessibility features Canadians can expect to experience when the next federal election is called. 

Through this webinar Elections Canada will also be open to your questions about how the services that will be offered for the election can meet your accessibility and information needs.

Date: Saturday, May 29, 2021

Times: 10:00 am Pacific

11:00 am Mountain

12:00 pm Central

1:00 pm Eastern

2:00 pm Atlantic

2:30 pm in Newfoundland

This meeting will last no longer than two hours.

We believe that our tele town hall will assist greatly to help you prepare for a possible Federal Election should one be called in the near future.

We look forward to welcoming you on May 29, 2021.

Thank you

The Canadian Accessible Elections Town Hall 2021 organizing committee

AIRA Vaccine Promo

Introducing the COVID Vaccine promo

As COVID-19 vaccination efforts expand, it has become clear that many websites and processes to register, set appointments, and navigate spaces for the vaccine are not fully accessible to those in the blind and low-vision community.   While it is the responsibility of government and healthcare entities to comply with the law and ensure that their platforms and processes are accessible, and while the community will continue its advocacy efforts, we cannot wait to get the vaccine. Therefore, we are introducing the COVID promo to assist the Explorer community in obtaining these crucial vaccines. For up to 30 minutes per day, Explorers may use Aira free for vaccine-related tasks.

To help our advocacy efforts, we would ask that you use the hashtag #CovidBLV in any and all social media postings and share some of the gaps and barriers you encountered. 

Our goal is to ensure that entities understand their obligation to make their websites and processes as accessible as possible. As they work to do so, we can assist people in the following ways regarding their COVID vaccinations.

● Researching if Explorer qualifies and determining places to register and receive vaccinations.

● Assisting with registering for and scheduling vaccination appointments using TeamViewer on the computer or TeamViewer Quick Support on the smartphone.

● Navigating locations where vaccines are provided, such as healthcare centers, public health facilities, mass vaccination locations, and drive-up sites.

● Assisting in scheduling second vaccination appointments.

● Taking post-vaccination selfies.

This promo does not cover:

● Non-vaccine-related COVID research

●Transportation to and from the vaccination site

● Registering others outside of the immediate family for vaccinationsCOVID testing

In order to provide this promotion, we will be limiting our Job Seeker promo to one 30-minute call per day through May, 2021.

If you have any questions, please contact our Customer Care Team at 1.800.835.1934 or via email at [email protected].

The staff and agents here at Aira wish you and yours the best of health.

A vial reading Coronavirus Vaccine COVID-19 Injection Only.

Your Help Is Urgently Required!

Your help is required to ensure that CELA (The Centre for Equitable
Library Access) and NNELS (National Network for Equitable Library
Service) can continue to offer the choices and services you depend

Without warning or consultation, the Federal Government announced
in its 2020 Fall Economic Statement, that it would withdraw the
current 4 million dollars which supports accessible reading materials
and programs, ending all support by 2024-2025. This 4 million dollars
in funding is split between CELA (3 million annually) and NNELS (1
million annually) to provide material to those across Canada with print

This decision to cut funding will have a devastating impact on CELA’s
and NNELS’s ability to produce new books for their collection and
distribute materials including audio CDs and physical Braille to their
users. The initial decrease in funding in 2021-2022, will result in an
immediate reduction in the services and further compound the effects
of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is having a disproportionate impact
on those with disabilities across Canada.

CELA and NNELS, are actively engaging with the Federal Minister of
Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, the
Honourable Carla Qualtrough, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister
of Finance, the Honourable Chrystia Freeland, and key opposition
Members of Parliament in an effort to have funding restored.
The Canadian Council of the Blind, is asking you to add your voice in
support of CELA and NNELS and write to both Ministers and to your
local Member of Parliament to ask that the funding for accessible
reading materials be fully restored.

More resources, including sample letters, can be found on both
CELA’s and NNELS’s websites, links below.
Please use the following hashtags in any social media posts so that
we can all find them and track the campaign: #CdnPoli


Respecting the fact of how important accessible reading materials are
to you, unfortunately, we all have a limited amount of time to convince
the Federal Government that full funding needs to be restored.
Please help by raising your voice, writing letters, and sharing the
impact of these devastating cuts.

The CCB (Canadian Council of the Blind) is proud to lend its
unconditional and total support to this extremely worthwhile and
important cause on behalf of its membership and all blind, deafblind
and partially sighted Canadians.

Louise Gillis
National President
Canadian Council of the