Faculty Articles

Title

Prevalence of visual impairment in El Salvador: Inequalities in educational level and occupational status

Volume

36

Issue

5

Publication Date / Copyright Date

11-1-2014

First Page

290

Last Page

299

Abstract

Objective. To examine the prevalence of blindness, visual impairment, and related eye diseases and conditions among adults in El Salvador, and to explore socioeconomic inequalities in their prevalence by education level and occupational status, stratified by sex. Methods. Based upon the Rapid Assessment of Avoidable Blindness (RAAB) methodology, this nationwide sample comprised 3 800 participants (3 399 examined) ≥ 50 years old from 76 randomly selected clusters of 50 persons each. The prevalence of blindness, visual impairment and related eye diseases and conditions, including uncorrected refractive error (URE), was calculated for categories of education level and occupational status. Multiple logistic regression models were fitted to calculate odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) and stratified by sex. Results. Age-adjusted prevalence was 2.4% (95% CI: 2.2-2.6) for blindness (men: 2.8% (95% CI: 2.5-3.1); women: 2.2% (95% CI: 1.9-2.5)) and 11.8% (95% CI: 11.6-12.0) for moderate visual impairment (men: 10.8% (95% CI: 10.5-11.1); women: 12.6% (95% CI: 12.4-12.8)). The proportion of visual impairment due to cataract was 43.8% in men and 33.5% in women. Inverse gradients of socioeconomic inequalities were observed in the prevalence of visual impairment. For example, the age-adjusted OR (AOR) was 3.4 (95% CI: 2.0-6.4) for visual impairment and 4.3 (95% CI: 2.1-10.4) for related URE in illiterate women compared to those with secondary education, and 1.9 (95% CI: 1.1-3.1) in cataract in unemployed men. Conclusions. Blindness and visual impairment prevalence is high in the El Salvador adult population. The main associated conditions are cataract and URE, two treatable conditions. As socioeconomic and gender inequalities in ocular health may herald discrimination and important barriers to accessing affordable, good-quality, and timely health care services, prioritization of public eye health care and disability policies should be put in place, particularly among women, the unemployed, and uneducated people.

Disciplines

Optometry

Keywords

Blindness, Cataract, El Salvador, Eye health, Health inequalities, Ophthalmology, Refractive errors

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