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The prevalence and causes of blindness in the Sultanate of Oman: the Oman Eye Study (OES)
  1. R Khandekar1,
  2. A J Mohammed2,
  3. A D Negrel3,
  4. A Al Riyami2
  1. 1Eye and Ear Health Care Programme, Ministry of Health, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman
  2. 2Ministry Of Health, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman
  3. 3Prevention of Blindness and Deafness, World Health Organization, 1211-Geneva-27, Switzerland
  1. Correspondence to: Dr Rajiv Khandekar, Eye and Ear Health Care Program, Ministry of Health (HQ), POB 393, Pin 113, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman; drrajivkhandekar{at}


Aims: To estimate the magnitude and the causes of blindness through a community based nationwide survey in Oman. This was conducted in 1996–7.

Methods: A stratified cluster random sampling procedure was used to select 12 400 people. The WHO/PBD standardised survey methodology was used, with suitable adaptation. The major causes of blindness were identified among those found blind.

Results: A total of 11 417 people were examined (response rate 91.8%) The prevalence of blindness in the Omani population was estimated to be 1.1% (95% CI 0.9 to 1.3), blindness being defined according to the WHO Tenth Revision of the International Classification of Diseases. Prevalence of blindness was clearly related to increasing age, with estimates of 0.08% for the 0–14 age group, 0.1% for the 15–39 age group, 2.3% for the 40–59 age group, and 16.8% for the group aged 60 +. There was a statistically significant difference between the prevalence in females (1.4%) and males (0.8%). The northern and central regions had a higher prevalence of blindness (1.3% to 3%). The major causes of blindness were unoperated cataract (30.5%), trachomatous corneal opacities (23.7%), and glaucoma (11.5%)

Conclusions: Despite an active eye healthcare programme, blindness due to cataract and trachoma remains a public health problem of great concern in several regions of the sultanate. These results highlight the need, when planning effective intervention strategies, to target the eye healthcare programme to the ageing population, with special emphasis on women.

  • blindness
  • epidemiology
  • cataract
  • trachoma
  • Sultanate of Oman

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