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Prevalence and causes of vision loss in North Africa and the Middle East: 1990–2010
  1. Moncef Khairallah1,
  2. Rim Kahloun1,
  3. Seth R Flaxman2,
  4. Jost B Jonas3,
  5. Jill Keeffe4,5,
  6. Janet Leasher6,
  7. Kovin Naidoo7,8,
  8. Konrad Pesudovs9,
  9. Holly Price10,
  10. Richard A White11,
  11. Tien Yin Wong12,
  12. Serge Resnikoff8,
  13. Hugh R Taylor13,
  14. Rupert R Bourne10,
  15. on behalf of the Vision Loss Expert Group
  1. 1Faculty of Medicine, Department of Ophthalmology, Fattouma Bourguiba University Hospital, University of Monastir, Monastir, Tunisia
  2. 2School of Computer Science & Heinz College, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, USA
  3. 3Department of Ophthalmology, Universitätsmedizin, Mannheim, Medical Faculty Mannheim, Heidelberg University, Mannheim, Germany
  4. 4Department of Ophthalmology, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  5. 5L V Prasad Eye Institute, Hyderabad, India
  6. 6Nova South-eastern University, Fort Lauderdale, USA
  7. 7African Vision Research Institute, University of Kwazulu-Natal, Durban, KZN, South Africa
  8. 8Brien Holden Vision Institute, Sydney, Australia
  9. 9NHMRC Centre for Clinical Eye Research, Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia
  10. 10Vision & Eye Research Unit, Postgraduate Medical Institute, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK
  11. 11Department of Genes and Environment, Division of Epidemiology, Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Oslo, Norway
  12. 12Singapore Eye Research Institute, Singapore National Eye Centre, National University of Singapore, Singapore
  13. 13Melbourne School of Population and Glocbal Health, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Professor Rupert Bourne, Vision and Eye Research Unit, Anglia Ruskin University, East Road, Cambridge, CB1 1PT, UK; rb{at}


Background To describe the prevalence and causes of visual impairment and blindness in North Africa and the Middle East (NAME) in 1990 and 2010.

Methods Based on a systematic review of medical literature, we examined prevalence and causes of moderate and severe vision impairment (MSVI; presenting visual acuity <6/18, ≥3/60) and blindness (presenting visual acuity <3/60).

Results In NAME, the age-standardised prevalence of blindness decreased from 2.1% to 1.1% and MSVI from 7.1% to 4.5%. In 2010, 3.119 million people were blind, and 13.700 million had MSVI. Women were generally more often affected than men. Main causes of blindness were cataract, uncorrected refractive error, macular degeneration and glaucoma. Main causes of MSVI were cataract and uncorrected refractive errors. Proportions of blindness and MSVI from trachoma significantly decreased.

Conclusions Although the absolute numbers of people with blindness and MSVI increased from 1990 to 2010, the overall age-standardised prevalence of blindness and MSVI among all ages and among those aged 50 years and older decreased significantly (p<0.05). Cataract and uncorrected refractive error were the major causes of blindness and MSVI.

  • Public health
  • Epidemiology

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