Prevalence and causes of low vision and blindness in an elderly population in Nepal: The Bhaktapur retina study

Raba Thapa, Sanyam Bajimaya, Govinda Paudyal, Shankar Khanal, Stevie Tan, Suman S. Thapa, G. H. M. B. van Rens

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Background: This study aims to explore the prevalence and causes of low vision and blindness focused on retinal disease in a population above 60 years in Nepal. Methods: Two thousand one hundred subjects were enrolled in a population-based cross-sectional study. History, presenting and best corrected visual acuity after subjective refraction, anterior and posterior segment examinations was obtained in detail. Results: Among the total subjects, 1860 (88.57%) had complete information. Age varies from 60 to 95 (mean age: 69.64 ± 7.31) years. Low vision and blindness in both eyes at presentation was found in 984 (52.90%, 95% confidence interval (CI): 50.60-55.19) and 36 (1.94%, 95% CI: 1.35-2.66) subjects respectively. After best correction, bilateral low vision and blindness was found in 426 (22.92%, 95% CI: 21.01-24.88), and 30 (1.61%, 95% CI: 0.10-2.30) subjects respectively. As compared to 60-69 years old, risk of visual impairment was four times higher (95% CI:3.26-5.58) in the 70-79 year olds and 14 times higher (95% CI: 9.72-19.73) in the age group 80 years and above. Major causes of bilateral low vision were cataract (68.07%), followed by retinal disorders (28.64%), and for blindness; retinal disorders (46.66%), followed by cataract (43.33%). Illiteracy was significantly associated with visual impairment. Conclusion: Among the elderly population, prevalence of visual impairment was high. Refractive error, cataract and retinal disorders were the major cause of low vision. Screening the population at the age 60 years and above, focused on cataract and posterior segment diseases, providing glasses and timely referral can help reduce visual impairment.
Original languageEnglish
Article number42
JournalBMC ophthalmology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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