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Prevalence and causes of visual impairment and blindness in Sistan-va-Baluchestan Province, Iran: Zahedan Eye Study

Abstract

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 aged ⩾10 years. Participants with a VA of <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. Bilateral blindness doubled in women aged >40 years. 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 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.

  • VA, visual acuity
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