May 2006
Volume 47, Issue 13
ARVO Annual Meeting Abstract  |   May 2006
Trends in Blind Registration in the Adult Population of the Republic of Ireland 1996–2003
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • C. Kelliher
    Ophthalmology, Mater Misericordiae University Hospital, Dublin 7, Ireland
  • D. Kenny
    National Council for the Blind in Ireland, Dublin, Ireland
  • C. O'Brien
    Ophthalmology, Mater Misericordiae University Hospital, Dublin 7, Ireland
  • Footnotes
    Commercial Relationships  C. Kelliher, None; D. Kenny, None; C. O'Brien, None.
  • Footnotes
    Support  None
Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science May 2006, Vol.47, 3479. doi:
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      C. Kelliher, D. Kenny, C. O'Brien; Trends in Blind Registration in the Adult Population of the Republic of Ireland 1996–2003 . Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2006;47(13):3479.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Purpose: : The Republic of Ireland has a centralised database of all registered, blind persons in the country. The last study of the national blind register was undertaken in 1996. The current study sought firstly to investigate and identify any recent changes in the register composition.

Methods: : Criteria for blind registration in Ireland are (1) a best corrected visual acuity of 6/60 or less in the better eye, or (2) a visual field subtending an angle of 20 degrees or less. The National Council for the Blind in Ireland (NCBI) is the sole custodian of a national registration database recording all eligible, registered persons. This computerised database was analysed to provide information on the demographics and blind registration condition of those on the register in 2003. This information was compared with the results of the 1996 study. To assess the accuracy of the current register, the registration status of eligible patients attending the out–patient clinic of a busy, tertiary–referral ophthalmology department was studied.

Results: : 6,862 adults were registered as blind on the NCBI register in Ireland in 2003, representing an increase of 37% since 1996. The leading causes of registration were age related macular degeneration (ARMD) (25%), glaucoma (12%) and retinitis pigmentosa (7%). Comparing the 1996 and 2003 data, dramatic increases in the numbers registered due to ARMD (from 812 to 1729 persons, a 113% increase) and diabetic retinopathy (DR) (from 147 to 323 persons, a 120% increase) were found. The numbers registered as a result of glaucoma were relatively stable (795 in 1996 and 811 in 2003). A substantial drop, of 53%, was noted in the number of persons registered as a result of cataracts, from 561 persons to 261. Of the 672 new cases registered in 2003, ARMD accounted for 44%, glaucoma 13% and DR 7%. Over the nine week study period 75 patients, out of a total 2,320 patients who attended the out–patient department, were found to fulfil the blind registration criteria. It was found that 21% (16 of 75) of the eligible clinic out–patients had not been appropriately registered.

Conclusions: : An overall increase in adult blind registration of 37% in the Republic of Ireland was found between 1996 and 2003. There were large increases in registered blindness due to ARMD (113%) and DR (120%). A notable decrease in registration due to cataracts was discovered. Vigilance by clinicians is necessary to ensure that eligible patients are registered.

Keywords: clinical (human) or epidemiologic studies: prevalence/incidence 

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