Visual impairment and blindness in Europe and their prevention

Br J Ophthalmol. 2002 Jul;86(7):716-22. doi: 10.1136/bjo.86.7.716.


The European region currently differs in many aspects, such as political, socioeconomic, and geographical. After substantial political changes at the beginning of the 1990s, the majority of central and eastern European countries started to rebuild their healthcare systems. It is apparent that eastern Europe represents a highly diverse region where the difference among countries broadens year after year. In highly industrialised countries of Europe, the leading causes of childhood serious visual loss are lesions of the central nervous system, congenital anomalies and retinal disorders. In the middle income countries of Europe, congenital cataract, glaucoma and, mainly, retinopathy of prematurity are highly expressed. The major cause of serious visual loss in adults in industrialised countries is age related macular degeneration. The other conditions comprise cataract, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and uncorrected/uncorrectable refractive errors, along with low vision. In people of working age, diabetic retinopathy, retinopathy pigmentosa, and optic atrophy are the most frequently reported causes of serious visual loss. In the middle income countries of Europe, advanced cataract, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy are more frequently observed.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Blindness / epidemiology
  • Blindness / etiology
  • Blindness / prevention & control
  • Cataract Extraction
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diabetic Retinopathy / surgery
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Eyeglasses
  • Glaucoma / therapy
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Retinopathy of Prematurity / therapy
  • Vision Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Vision Disorders / etiology
  • Vision Disorders / therapy