Aim: To determine the prevalence and causes of visual impairment and blindness in the Sistan-va- Baluchestan province of Iran.
Methods: A population based cross sectional study with a multistage cluster sampling technique was used to identify the study subjects. Visual acuity (VA) was defined for all participants 10 years and older. Participants with a VA of less than 20/60 were examined by an ophthalmologist to determine the causes of low vision or blindness.
Results: 5446 (84.0%) of the invited people were examined. The prevalence of visual impairment (VA < 20/60) was 6.81% (95% CI: 5.91% to 7.71%) and of bilateral blindness (VA < 3/60) was 0.79% (95% CI: 0.50% to 1.08%). Visual impairment increased with age and illiteracy. Above 40 years, bilateral blindness doubled in females. The causes of visual impairment and blindness were cataract (37.7%), corneal opacity (15.0%), amblyopia (15.0%), glaucoma (5.7%) and hyperopia (5.0%). 39.5% of the visual impairment cases and 10.9% of blind cases were potentially curable.
Conclusion: The estimated magnitude of visual impairment and blindness was much higher than our expectations. Further investigation of the pattern of vision loss in women and children particularly as a result of trachoma and amblyopia, is warranted. Implementation of measures to treat curable cases of the study population can improve the situation in the region dramatically.
- low vision
- visual impairment