April 2010
Volume 51, Issue 13
ARVO Annual Meeting Abstract  |   April 2010
Main Causes of Blindness in the Veterans Administration Caribbean Healthcare System Population
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • A. C. Toro
    Ophthalmology, University of Puerto Rico, GUAYNABO, Puerto Rico
  • A. Cortes
    Ophthalmology, VA Hospital - Puerto Rico, Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico
  • Footnotes
    Commercial Relationships  A.C. Toro, None; A. Cortes, None.
  • Footnotes
    Support  None.
Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science April 2010, Vol.51, 130. doi:
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      A. C. Toro, A. Cortes; Main Causes of Blindness in the Veterans Administration Caribbean Healthcare System Population. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2010;51(13):130.

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

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Purpose: : To describe the main causes of blindness and socio-demographics characteristics of the VA Caribbean Healthcare System (VACHCS) population between 1997-2007.

Methods: : A retrospective chart review of all legally blind patients (<20/200 in better eye or <20 degrees of visual field restriction in better eye) in the Blind Rehab System Database at the Veterans Administration Hospital from 1997-2007. Data collected for each patient included main cause of blindness (confirmed by MD in chart review), best corrected visual acuity, visual fields, age, gender, race, ethnicity, education and financial status. We identified the total veterans population served by the VACHCS based on American Community Survey 2005-2007 and 2000 US census to estimate the prevalence of blindness in our population.

Results: : After chart review 802 subjects were identified as legally blind. The three main causes of blindness were glaucoma (n=347;43.4%), diabetic retinopathy (n=219;27.3%), and age related macular degeneration (n=91;11.3%). Mean age of legally blind subjects is 77.0 +/- 9.9 yrs. Almost all patients were male (99.5%). More than 90% are Hispanics or Latino and 83.6% of patients describe themselves as whites. Al least 50% of them has annual income of less than $20,000 and more than 75% has a high school diploma or a greater degree. We estimate the prevalence of blindness in the VACHCS to be 0.59% +/- 0.01%. Between the three main causes of blindness, diabetic retinopathy group has a statistically significant lower mean age.

Conclusions: : In this veterans population of mainly Puerto Rican ancestry the main cause of blindness is glaucoma. Despite diabetes being so prevalent in Puerto Ricans, even higher among other hispanics, glaucoma is still the main cause of blindness by a high margin. Findings are similar to studies realized with Mexican-American populations.

Keywords: clinical (human) or epidemiologic studies: prevalence/incidence • diabetic retinopathy • visual impairment: neuro-ophthalmological disease 

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