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Cataract blindness in Turkmenistan: results of a national survey
  1. S Amansakhatov1,
  2. Z P Volokhovskaya1,
  3. A N Afanasyeva1,
  4. H Limburg2
  1. 1S Karanov Scientific Clinical Center for Eye Diseases Ashgabat, Turkmenistan
  2. 2World Health Organization, Prevention of Blindness and Deafness, Geneva, Switzerland
  1. Correspondence to: S Amansakhatov, Scientific Clinical Center for Eye Diseases, Seyidi Street 32, 744006, Ashgabat, Turkmenistan; okulist{at}


Aim: To present results of a rapid assessment of cataract in Turkmenistan.

Methods: 6120 eligible people of 50 years and older were selected by systematic random sampling from the whole of Turkmenistan. A total of 6011 people were examined (coverage 98.2%).

Results: Cataract is the major cause of bilateral blindness (54%), followed by glaucoma (25%). The age and sex adjusted prevalence of bilateral cataract blindness (VA <3/60) in people of 50 years and older was 0.6% (95% CI: 0.4 to 0.9), with a cataract surgical coverage of 75% (people). For VA <6/60 the prevalence was 2.6% (95% CI: 2.1 to 3.2) in people aged 50 and above, approximately 0.26% of the total population. In this last group the surgical coverage was 44% (people) and 32% (eyes). Of the patients operated with IOL implantation 8.2% could not see 6/60, 44.8% of those operated without IOL could not see 6/60. The main barrier to cataract surgery was indifference (“old age, no need for surgery”), followed by “waiting for maturity.”

Conclusion: To increase the cataract surgical coverage in Turkmenistan the intake criteria should be lowered to VA <6/60 or less. At the same time the visual outcome of surgery can be improved by expanding the number of IOL surgeries and routine monitoring of cataract outcome. Additional investments will be required to provide all eye surgeons with appropriate equipment and skills for IOL surgery.

  • cataract
  • blindness
  • Turkmenstan

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  • Series editors: W V Goodand S Ruit