Objective: To estimate the prevalence of cataract, surgical coverage rate and the bilateral cataract-blindness burden among adults aged 50 or above in Shunyi District of Beijing, China, for evaluating the cataract status and the efficacy of the prevention blindness program in more than 10 years.
Methods: Cluster sampling was used in randomly selected individuals aged 50 years or older in 28 villages in Shunyi District in fall, 1996. 5 084 individuals received visual acuity test and eye examination, including lens examination by slit lamp. The cataract operation status was also evaluated.
Results: The prevalence of cataract was 23.31% among adults aged 50 or above. The prevalence of cataract was increasing by aging. The prevalence of cataract in women and illiterates was significantly higher statistically. The cataract surgical rate had been increasing since 1984. When the bilateral pinhole vision < 3/60 was defined as the blindness criterion, the cataract blindness surgical coverage rate was 56.36%, and the bilateral cataract-blindness burden was 1.63%. When the bilateral presenting vision < 6/60 was defined as the blindness criterion, the cataract blindness surgical coverage rate was 47.79%, and the bilateral cataract-blindness burden was 2.22%. The cataract surgical coverage rates were much lower and the bilateral cataract-blindness burden much higher in women, illiterates and persons aged 70 or above.
Conclusions: The prevalence of cataract is higher and bilateral cataract-blindness burden is heavier in elder individuals. Cataract blindness is still a serious public health problem in elder, women and illiterates after the prevention blindness program having been actively conducted for more than ten years.