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Prevalence and causes of vision loss in East Asia: 1990–2010
  1. Tien Y Wong1,
  2. Yingfeng Zheng2,
  3. Jost B Jonas3,
  4. Seth R Flaxman4,
  5. Jill Keeffe5,
  6. Janet Leasher6,
  7. Kovin Naidoo7,
  8. Konrad Pesudovs8,
  9. Holly Price9,
  10. Richard A White10,
  11. Serge Resnikoff11,
  12. Hugh R Taylor12,
  13. Rupert R A Bourne9,
  14. on behalf of the Vision Loss Expert Group of the Global Burden of Disease Study
  1. 1Singapore Eye Research Institute, Singapore National Eye Centre, National University of Singapore, Singapore, Singapore
  2. 2State Key Laboratory of Ophthalmology, Zhongshan Ophthalmic Center, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China
  3. 3Department of Ophthalmology, Medical Faculty Mannheim, Heidelberg University, Mannheim, Germany
  4. 4School of Computer Science & Heinz College, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, USA
  5. 5Centre for Eye Research Australia, University of Melbourne, East Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  6. 6Nova Southeastern University, Fort Lauderdale, USA
  7. 7African Vision Research Institute, University of Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa & Brien Holden Vision Institute, Sydney, Australia
  8. 8NHMRC Centre for Clinical Eye Research, Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia
  9. 9Vision & Eye Research Unit, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK
  10. 10Department of Biostatistics, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  11. 11Brien Holden Vision Institute, Sydney, Australia
  12. 12Melbourne School of Population Health, University of Melbourne, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Professor Rupert R A Bourne, Vision and Eye Research Unit, Postgraduate Medical Institute, Anglia Ruskin University, East Road, Cambridge, CB1 1PT, UK; rb{at}


Aims To describe the prevalence and causes of visual impairment and blindness in East Asia in 1990 and 2010.

Method Data from population-based studies conducted from 1980 to 2012 were identified, and eligibility for inclusion was assessed. Data on prevalence of blindness (presenting visual acuity <3/60 in the better eye) and moderate to severe visual impairment (MSVI; presenting visual acuity <6/18 to 3/60 in the better eye) and causes were extracted.

Results The age-standardised prevalence of blindness was 0.7% (95% CI 0.6 to 0.9) in 1990 and 0.4% (95% CI 0.3 to 0.5) in 2010, while that of MSVI was 3.6% (95% CI 2.3 to 4.4) and 2.3% (95% CI 1.7 to 2.8), respectively. These prevalence estimates were lower than those of other countries globally. The absolute numbers affected by blindness and MSVI in 2010 were 5.2 million and 33.3 million, respectively, and were higher among women than men. Cataract was the leading cause of blindness, whereas uncorrected refractive error was the leading cause of MSVI.

Conclusions There has been a significant reduction in prevalence of blindness in East Asia, but a substantial absolute number of people remain blind and visually impaired, largely caused by cataract and uncorrected refractive error.

  • Vision
  • Epidemiology

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