June 2017
Volume 58, Issue 8
Open Access
ARVO Annual Meeting Abstract  |   June 2017
Estimated Prevalence of Visual Impairment in Sub-Saharan Africa (2015)
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • John H Kempen
    Ophthalmology, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary; Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, United States
    Discovery Eye Center/MyungSung Christian Medical Center, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
  • Rupert R A Bourne
    Vision & Eye Research Unit, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • Tien Yin Wong
    Singapore Eye Research Institute, National University of Singapore, Singapore, Singapore
  • Hugh Taylor
    Melbourne School of Populations and Global Health, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  • Nina Tahhan
    Brien Holden Vision Institute, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
    School of Optometry and Vision Science, University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  • Gretchen Stevens
    Department of Information, Evidence and Research, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland
  • Serge Resnikoff
    International Health and Development, Geneva, Switzerland
  • Konrad Pesudovs
    NHMRC Centre for Clinical Eye Research, Flinders University, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
  • Hans Limburg
    Health Information Services, Grootebroek, Netherlands
  • Janet L Leasher
    Nova Southeastern University, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, United States
  • Jill E Keeffe
    L V Prasad Eye Institute, Hyderabad, India
  • Jost B Jonas
    Department of Ophthalmology, Medical Faculty Mannheim, Mannheim, Germany
  • Tasanee Braithwaite
    Vision & Eye Research Unit, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • Seth Flaxman
    Department of Statistics, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom
  • Kovin Shunmugam Naidoo
    African Vision Research Institute, University of Kwazulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
    Brien Holden Vision Institute, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  • Footnotes
    Commercial Relationships   John Kempen, None; Rupert Bourne, None; Tien Wong, None; Hugh Taylor, None; Nina Tahhan, None; Gretchen Stevens, None; Serge Resnikoff, None; Konrad Pesudovs, None; Hans Limburg, None; Janet Leasher, None; Jill Keeffe, None; Jost Jonas, None; Tasanee Braithwaite, None; Seth Flaxman, None; Kovin Naidoo, None
  • Footnotes
    Support  Brien Holden Vision Institute
Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science June 2017, Vol.58, 2197. doi:https://doi.org/
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    • Get Citation

      John H Kempen, Rupert R A Bourne, Tien Yin Wong, Hugh Taylor, Nina Tahhan, Gretchen Stevens, Serge Resnikoff, Konrad Pesudovs, Hans Limburg, Janet L Leasher, Jill E Keeffe, Jost B Jonas, Tasanee Braithwaite, Seth Flaxman, Kovin Shunmugam Naidoo; Estimated Prevalence of Visual Impairment in Sub-Saharan Africa (2015). Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2017;58(8):2197. doi: https://doi.org/.

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

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Purpose : To estimate the burden of visual impairment in Sub-Saharan Africa, including functional presbyopia, as of 2015.

Methods : We applied meta-analysis to population-based datasets submitted to the Global Vision Database which were relevant to Sub-Saharan Africa visual impairment, blindness, and functional presbyopia prevalence from 1980 to 2015. Definitions: Blindness—presenting visual acuity (VA) worse than (<) 3/60 and/or a visual field ≤10 degrees in radius around central fixation; “Moderate to Severe visual impairment (MSVI)”—VA<6/18 but 3/60 or better; “Mild visual impairment (VI)”—<6/12 but 6/18 or better; “Presbyopia”—near vision worse than N6 or N8 at 40cm and best-corrected visual acuity better than 6/12. A range of plausible estimates was indicated by 80% uncertainty intervals (UI).

Results : See Table. Overall, more than 25% of the 50+ age group was visual impaired, not counting presbyopia, which affected an additional 58.49% (42.59-73.84). Blindness tended to be less in the Southern and Central than the Western and Eastern parts of sub-Saharan Africa.

Conclusions : Sub-Saharan Africa currently has one of the lower absolute burdens of visual impairment as a result of its young population age structure, but has the highest age-standardized burden of visual impairment in the world, suggesting the burden of visual impairment will become the highest in the world once the demographic transition is completed. Interventions to prevent future blindness and train eye care practitioners are indicated now to forestall or at least mitigate this incoming tidal wave of visual impairment.

This is an abstract that was submitted for the 2017 ARVO Annual Meeting, held in Baltimore, MD, May 7-11, 2017.



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