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Wyatt Smith, Deyu Pan, Fei Yu, Anne L Coleman, Gary N Holland; Prevalence of, and Factors Associated with, Blindness in California from a Population-Based Survey. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2018;59(9):4102.
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Because of its geographic, racial/ethnic, and socioeconomic diversity, the state of California can serve as a model for population-based studies of various health-related issues, including loss of vision. We utilized a big-data approach to estimate the prevalence of legal blindness in California, and to identify factors related to legal blindness.
We analyzed data from the California Health Interview Survey (CHIS), the largest state health survey within the United States, from the years 2011-2015. CHIS collects demographic, socioeconomic, and medical information, including self-reported legal blindness. Analyses were adjusted for sampling weights.
There were 104,209 CHIS respondents during the study period. The overall prevalence of legal blindness in California is 0.7%, but prevalence varies by geographic region, being highest in northern/Sierra counties (1.1%) and lowest in the San Francisco Bay area (0.6%) and central coast counties (0.6%). Many demographic, socioeconomic, and general health-related factors were related to legal blindness. African-American participants reported an increased prevalence of legal blindness (1.4%). Respondents with a household income greater than $80,000 reported a decreased prevalence (0.3%). Prevalence of legal blindness was increased among respondents living with diabetes (1.8%), heart disease (2.1%), or congestive heart failure (3.9%). Respondents with legal blindness were more likely to experience severe impairments at work (10.4% for those with legal blindness vs. 4.2% for those without legal blindness); to experience impaired ability to perform activities at home (9.8% vs. 5.9%); and within the prior year, to experience psychological distress (11.3% vs. 8.1%); and to contemplate suicide (13.7% vs. 8.8%).
The overall prevalence of legal blindness in our study is consistent with prior estimates extrapolated to the California demographic from national age- and race-specific population-based prevalence data. Prevalence of legal blindness varies with geographic location. We hypothesize that the variation is attributable to an unequal distribution of risk factors, including age, race/ethnicity, and income, with associated health disparities. Legal blindness appears to have a profound impact on activities of daily living, mental health, and quality of life.
This is an abstract that was submitted for the 2018 ARVO Annual Meeting, held in Honolulu, Hawaii, April 29 - May 3, 2018.
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