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Burden of Visual Impairment Tied to Socioeconomic Indicators

FRIDAY, Oct. 20, 2017 -- The burden of visual impairment is associated with socioeconomic indicators, with higher prevalence in regions with a lower human development index (HDI), according to a study published online Oct. 19 in JAMA Ophthalmology.

Wei Wang, M.D., from Sun Yat-Sen University in China, and colleagues collected data from 190 countries and territories to examine the age-standardized prevalence of moderate to severe visual impairment (MSVI) and blindness. The authors examined the correlations between the prevalence of visual impairment and socioeconomic factors at country levels.

The researchers observed a strong negative correlation between prevalence rates of MSVI and blindness and socioeconomic level of development. The mean age-standardized prevalence of MSVI decreased from 4.38 percent in low-HDI regions to 1.51 percent in very-high-HDI regions. The national HDI level accounted for 56.3 and 67.1 percent of global variation in prevalence rates of MSVI and blindness, respectively. There was a correlation for higher prevalence rates with lower total health expenditure per capita, total health expenditure/gross domestic product, public/total health expenditure, and higher percentage of out-of-pocket/total health expenditure. Socioeconomic factors explained 69.4 and 76.3 percent of the global variations in prevalence of MSVI and blindness, respectively.

"Burden of visual impairment and socioeconomic indicators were closely associated and may help to identify countries requiring greater attention to these issues," the authors write.

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Posted: October 2017