Johnson & Johnson is buying Abbott's eye health unit in a cash deal worth $4.36 billion.

Abbott Medical Optics pulled in annual sales of $1.1 billion for 2015 from ophthalmic products in cataract surgery, laser refractive surgery and consumer eye health.

Explaining its interest in the deal, J&J noted that AMO is a global leader in ophthalmic surgery, known for its intraocular lenses that are used in cataract surgery. The market for cataracts is already sizeable and growing: currently around 20 million people are blind from age-related cataracts and the condition affects sights in at least 100 million eyes.

AMO's laser vision (LASIK) technologies are designed to enhance surgeon productivity and correct near sightedness, far sightedness and astigmatism, while its consumer eye health products include over-the-counter eye drops, multipurpose solutions, and hydrogen peroxide cleaning systems for patients who wear contact lenses.

"Eye health is one of the largest, fastest growing and most underserved segments in health care today," said Ashley McEvoy, company group chairman, responsible for Johnson & Johnson's Vision Care Companies.

"With the acquisition of Abbott Medical Optics' strong and differentiated surgical ophthalmic portfolio, coupled with our world-leading ACUVUE contact lens business, we will become a more broad-based leader in vision care. Importantly, with this acquisition we will enter cataract surgery - one of the most commonly performed surgeries and the number one cause of preventable blindness."

The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2017 - subject to antitrust clearance and other customary closing conditions - and is should be modestly accretive immediately to adjusted earnings per share, J&J noted.