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Prevalence and causes of vision loss in Latin America and the Caribbean: 1990–2010
  1. Janet L Leasher1,
  2. Van Lansingh2,
  3. Seth R Flaxman3,
  4. Jost B Jonas4,
  5. Jill Keeffe5,6,
  6. Kovin Naidoo7,
  7. Konrad Pesudovs8,
  8. Holly Price9,
  9. Juan Carlos Silva10,
  10. Richard A White11,
  11. Tien Y Wong12,
  12. Serge Resnikoff13,
  13. Hugh R Taylor14,
  14. Rupert R A Bourne9,
  15. on behalf of the Vision Loss Expert Group of the Global Burden of Disease Study
  1. 1Nova Southeastern University, Fort Lauderdale, USA
  2. 2International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB)/VISION 2020 Latin America Regional Office, Weston, USA
  3. 3School of Computer Science & Heinz College, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, USA
  4. 4Department of Ophthalmology, Medical Faculty Mannheim, Heidelberg University, Mannheim, Germany
  5. 5Department of Ophthalmology, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
  6. 6L V Prasad Eye Institute, Hyderabad, India
  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, Postgraduate Medical Institute, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK
  10. 10Regional Advisor for the Prevention of Blindness, Pan American Health Organization, World Health Organization, Bogotá, Colombia
  11. 11Department of Genes and Environment, Division of Epidemiology, Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Oslo, Norway
  12. 12Singapore Eye Research Institute, Singapore, Singapore
  13. 13Brien Holden Vision Institute, Sydney, Australia
  14. 14Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne, Carlton, Victoria, 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}


Objective To present regional estimates of the magnitude and temporal trends in the prevalence and causes of blindness and moderate/severe visual impairment (MSVI) in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC).

Methods A systematic review of cross-sectional population-representative data from published literature and unpublished studies was accessed and extracted to model the estimated prevalence of vision loss by region, country and globally, and the attributable cause fraction by region.

Results In the LAC combined region, estimated all-age both-gender age-standardised prevalence of blindness halved from 0.8% (0.6 to 1.1) in 1990 to 0.4% (0.4 to 0.6) in 2010 and MSVI decreased from 4.3% (3.1 to 5.3) to 2.7% (2.2 to 3.4). In the Caribbean, estimated all-age both-gender age-standardised prevalence of blindness decreased from 0.6% (0.4 to 0.8) in 1990 to 0.5% (0.4 to 0.6) in 2010 and MSVI decreased from 3.3% (1.3 to 4.1) in 1990 to 2.9% (1.8 to 3.8). In the LAC regions combined, there was an estimated 2.3 million blind and 14.1 million with MSVI in 2010. In 2010, cataract continues to contribute the largest proportion of blindness, except in Southern Latin America where macular degeneration is most common. In 2010, uncorrected refractive error was the most common cause of MSVI.

Conclusions While models suggest a decrease in age-standardised prevalence estimates, better data are needed to evaluate the disparities in the region. The increasing numbers of older people, coupled with the increase in vision loss associated with older age, will require further intervention to continue to reduce prevalence rates and to prevent a rise in absolute numbers of blind.

  • Epidemiology
  • Vision
  • Public Health

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