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Antonio M G Baptista, Joel Monteiro, Marco Vieira, Pedro Reimão, Paulo Rocha, Amandio A Rocha-Sousa, Cristina Freitas, Antonio Filipe Macedo, Ana Patricia Marques, Rui Santana, ; Causes of Vision Impairment in Portugal: A hospital based study. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2015;56(7 ):2118.
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Causes of vision impairment (VI) are influenced by factors such as race or socio-economic circumstances. Because of this collecting national information is important for planning reduction of vision loss. The aim of this study was to determine causes of vision impairment in a population visiting ophthalmology departments in public hospitals in Portugal.
This study was designed according with the guidelines of the Vancouver Economic Burden of Vision Loss Group (IOVS, 2010, V51/4/1801). Recommendations are to collect hospital data during 1 year to determine causes of VI. We selected four public hospitals that are expected to have over 120-140K appointments per year. Files are analysed weekly to detect patients with vision impairment. Inclusion criteria are: visual acuity with the current refractive correction equal or less than 0.5 (20/40) in the better-seeing eye and/or a visual field of less than 20 degrees. Patients were selected by trained hospital staff (medics and orthoptists) and inserted in a database. Diagnoses were classified according the ICD9. Data collected included fundamental demographic information, main diagnosis, secondary diagnosis and comorbidities.
We have now 2462 patients selected that correspond to 4 to 33 weeks of data collection. The number of weeks is variable because we did not start all hospitals simultaneously. From the current number of cases detected, 58% are female, 1.9% are under 20, 8.2% are between 20 and 50 and 89.9% are 50 years or older. The leading causes of vision impairment among these patients are diabetic retinopathy (DR), cataract (C), glaucoma (GC) and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Using the North American definition of VI the proportions are 26.8% for DR, 25.5% for C, 10.4% for GC and 8.2% for AMD. The remaining causes of VI have percentages below 5% and in total they correspond to approximately 29% of the cases detected.
Our results show that the most common causes of vision impairment are eye diseases related with systemic conditions and aging of the population. Vision impairment was relatively low under the age of 20 and the causes were mostly inherited diseases. Numbers reported now will be more accurate at the end of the study but they already highlight the importance of targeting conditions such as diabetes.
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