Prevalence and causes of blindness and low vision in Timor-Leste

Type Journal Article - British Journal of Ophthalmology
Title Prevalence and causes of blindness and low vision in Timor-Leste
Volume 91
Issue 9
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2007
Page numbers 1117-1121
Aim: To estimate the prevalence and causes of blindness and low vision in people aged >40 years in TimorLeste.
Method: A population-based cross-sectional survey using multistage cluster random sampling to identify 50
clusters of 30 people. A cause of vision loss was determined for each eye presenting with visual acuity worse
than 6/18.
Results: Of 1470 people enumerated, 1414 (96.2%) were examined. The age, gender and domicile-adjusted
prevalence of functional blindness (presenting vision worse than 6/60 in the better eye) was 7.4% (95% CI
6.1 to 8.8), and for blindness at 3/60 was 4.1% (95% CI 3.1 to 5.1). The adjusted prevalence for low vision
(better eye presenting vision of 6/60 or better, but worse than 6/18) was 17.7% (95% CI 15.7 to 19.7).
Gender was not a risk factor for blindness or low vision, but increasing age, illiteracy, subsistence farming,
unemployment and rural domicile were risk factors for both. Cataract was the commonest cause of blindness
(72.9%) and an important cause of low vision (17.8%). Uncorrected refractive error caused 81.3% of low
Conclusion: Strategies that make good-quality cataract and refractive error services available, affordable
and accessible, especially in rural areas, will have the greatest impact on vision impairment.

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