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Causes of Vision Loss

Cataract or uncorrected refractive errors account for most vision loss.

90% of vision loss can be avoided.

Refractive Error

Uncorrected refractive error is the largest cause of vision loss

  • 161 million people live with distance vision impairment or blindness
  • 510 million people live with near vision impairment.

For these people, sight can be restored with appropriate spectacles, contact lenses, or refractive surgery.

Cataract

Cataract is the largest cause of blindness

100 million people people have vision loss from cataract. Of these:

  • 17 million people are blind
  • 83 million people experience vision impairment.

For these people, sight can be restored with cataract surgery.

Rates of vision impairment and blindness due to cataract are higher in women (1.7%) than men (1.4%).

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)

Age-related macular degeneration is the third largest cause of vision loss

Over 8 million people have vision loss due to AMD. Of these:

  • 1.9 million are blind
  • 6.2 million experience moderate to severe vision impairment.

For every person that experiences vision impairment and blindness from AMD, there are many more living with early stage AMD who need comprehensive and integrated people centred eye care services to prevent vision loss.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is the fourth largest cause of vision loss

Almost 8 million people have vision loss due to glaucoma. Of these:

  • 3.6 million are blind
  • 4.2 million experience moderate to severe vision impairment.

For every person that experiences vision impairment and blindness from glaucoma, there are many more living with early stage glaucoma who need comprehensive and integrated people centred eye care services to prevent vision loss.

Diabetic retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is a growing cause of vision loss

Over 4 million people have vision loss due to diabetic retinopathy. Of these:

  • 1 million are blind
  • 3.3 million experience moderate to severe vision impairment.

For every person that experiences vision impairment and blindness from diabetic retinopathy, there are many more living with early stage diabetic retinopathy who need comprehensive and integrated people centred eye care services to prevent vision loss.

Other

56 million people have vision loss due to other causes

These include conditions such as:

  • neglected tropical diseases such as trachoma and onchocerciasis
  • myopia macular degeneration and other retinopathies
  • corneal opacities.

Unknown

Causes are unknown for mild vision impairment

There are 258 million people with mild vision impairment, of which the cause is unknown due to the limited availability of information.

Also, there is limited information on the causes of vision impairment and blindness for people under 50 years of age. More standardisation and certainty of the causes of vision impairment and blindness would be beneficial in future research.

 

How to cite the Vision Atlas and VLEG/GBD 2020 model

If distributing/publishing this model’s data, it is obligatory to use the following reference:

Adelson, Jaimie, Rupert R.A. Bourne, Paul S Briant, Seth Flaxman, Hugh Taylor, Jost B. Jonas, et al. Causes of Blindness and Vision Impairment in 2020 and Trends over 30 Years : Evaluating the Prevalence of Avoidable Blindness in Relation to “ VISION 2020 : The Right to Sight ”. The Lancet Global Health, 2020.  Under review.

Photo Credits

‘Other’ tile: Harry Wood, YWAM, ‘Unknown’ tile: Solomon Gadisa, Light for the World