Faculty Articles


Global vision impairment and blindness due to uncorrected refractive error, 1990Y2010





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Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins ; American Academy of Optometry [Associate Organisation]

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The purpose of this systematic review was to estimate worldwide the number of people with moderate and severe visual impairment (MSVI; presenting visual acuity G6/18, Q3/60) or blindness (presenting visual acuity G3/60) due to uncorrected refractive error (URE), to estimate trends in prevalence from 1990 to 2010, and to analyze regional differences. The review focuses on uncorrected refractive error which is now the most common cause of avoidable visual impairment globally. The systematic review of 14,908 relevant manuscripts from 1990 to 2010 using Medline, Embase, and WHOLIS yielded 243 high-quality, population-based cross-sectional studies which informed a meta-Analysis of trends by region. The results showed that in 2010, 6.8 million (95% confidence interval [CI]: 4.7Y8.8 million) people were blind (7.9% increase from 1990) and 101.2 million (95% CI: 87.88Y125.5 million) vision impaired due to URE (15% increase since 1990), while the global population increased by 30% (1990Y2010). The all-Age age-standardized prevalence of URE blindness decreased 33% from 0.2% (95% CI: 0.1Y0.2%) in 1990 to 0.1% (95% CI: 0.1Y0.1%) in 2010, whereas the prevalence of URE MSVI decreased 25% from 2.1% (95% CI: 1.6Y2.4%) in 1990 to 1.5% (95% CI: 1.3Y1.9%) in 2010. In 2010, URE contributed 20.9% (95% CI: 15.2Y25.9%) of all blindness and 52.9% (95% CI: 47.2Y57.3%) of all MSVI worldwide. The contribution of URE to all MSVI ranged from 44.2 to 48.1% in all regions except in South Asia which was at 65.4% (95% CI: 62Y72%). We conclude that in 2010, uncorrected refractive error continues as the leading cause of vision impairment and the second leading cause of blindness worldwide, affecting a total of 108 million people or 1 in 90 persons.




Blindness, GBD 2010, Global Burden of Disease Study, Myopia, uncorrected refractive error, Vision impairment, Vision loss

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