-- Robert Preidt
MONDAY, March 24, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Global rates of
blindness and poor vision have fallen sharply over the past two
decades, especially in rich nations, a new study reveals.
And providing eyeglasses for common vision-loss problems could
improve the situation even more, according to the researchers.
The investigators analyzed 243 studies conducted in 190
countries and found that rates of blindness and poor vision fell by
37 percent and 27 percent, respectively, from 1990 to 2010.
In wealthy nations, the prevalence rate of blindness dropped by
half, from 3.3 million people (0.2 percent of the population) to
2.7 million people (0.1 percent of the population), the findings
In those countries, the rate of poor vision decreased 38
percent, from 25.4 million people (1.6 percent of the population)
to 22.2 million people (1 percent of the population).
In high-income countries, women were more likely than men to be
blind or to have poor vision throughout the study period.
The study was published online March 24 in the
British Journal of Ophthalmology.
During the 20-year study timeframe, macular degeneration
replaced cataracts as the most common cause of blindness, except in
central and eastern European nations, according to a journal news
release. The most common cause of poor vision remained uncorrected
refractive errors such as long- and short-sightedness.
The findings show "that even for the highly developed countries
one of the most effective, cheapest, and safest ways of improving
vision loss by providing adequate spectacles for correcting
refractive errors, is being overlooked," study author Rupert
Bourne, a professor with the vision and eye research unit at Anglia
Ruskin University, in Cambridge, England, and colleagues wrote.
They added that the growing number of people with diabetes will
have a major effect on eye health worldwide, with as many as 100
million people expected to develop an eye disease called diabetic
retinopathy. Of those, about one-third will be at risk of losing
"Strategies to screen for diabetic retinopathy and provide timely treatment access are critical to prevent this condition from having a greater impact on blindness prevalence in the future," the researchers concluded.
The U.S. National Eye Institute offers tips for
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