Course 33

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New data and trends in prevalence and causes of Visual Impairment

Convenors: Rupert Bourne and Hugh Taylor

In 2010, 65% of 32.4 million blind people and 76% of 191 million people with moderate and severe vision impairment (MSVI) worldwide had a preventable or treatable cause, compared with of 31.8 million and 80% of 172 million in 1990. Leading causes worldwide in 1990 and 2010 for blindness were cataract (39% and 33%, respectively), uncorrected refractive error (20% and 21%), and macular degeneration (5% and 7%), and for MSVI were uncorrected refractive error (51% and 53%), cataract (26% and 18%), and macular degeneration (2% and 3%). Causes of blindness varied substantially by region. Worldwide and in all regions more women than men were blind or had MSVI due to cataract and macular degeneration.

These data from the Global Vision Database will be updated for 2015 in this session and future projections using this comprehensive database of all population-based survey data published (and unpublished) since 1980, will be made available with guidance on how to access this information through the online visualization tool ( Leading international experts will present information on coverage of data from three key regions of the World, namely China, Africa and Latin America. Both governments and non-governmental organisations need to monitor the prevalence of blindness and vision impairment over time and this and the issue of national ‘indicators’ for eyecare will be discussed for each of these regions. The efforts these regions have made to provide this data or meet these international expectations will be discussed. Population-based studies vary widely in their design, a common distinction being made between ‘rapid’ studies and ‘comprehensive studies’. ‘Rapid’ methodology studies have provided important information for regions in which data had been sparse until recently. The relative coverage of these surveys for these regions will be presented.

Two important, and growing, causes of blindness and vision impairment, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy will be selected for discussion in the light of recent meta-analyses. Finally, the important issue of how this data can be utilized and what is needed in terms of standardization of definitions, collaborative working and dissemination of the data to those who can effect change, will conclude this engaging session.


  • Understanding the latest data on prevalence of blindness and Visual Impairment
  • Understanding the regional differences and priorities by cause
Rupert BourneThe Global Vision Database: new data and trends
Wei HeChina: new data and trends
Kovin NaidooAfrica: new data and trends
Juan Carlos SilvaLatin America: new data and trends
Mahi MuqitDiabetic retinopathy: new data and trends
Neeru GuptaGlaucoma: new data and trends
Hugh Taylor / Serge ResnikoffUsing this data to effect change

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