Planning low vision services in India : a population-based perspective

Ophthalmology. 2002 Oct;109(10):1871-8. doi: 10.1016/s0161-6420(02)01183-1.


Objective: To assess the prevalence and causes of low vision in a population in southern India for planning low vision services.

Design: Population-based, cross-sectional study.

Participants: A total of 10,293 persons of all ages from 94 clusters representative of the population of the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.

Methods: The participants underwent a detailed eye examination, including measurement of visual acuity with logarithm of the minimum angle of resolution charts, refraction, slit-lamp biomicroscopy, applanation tonometry, gonioscopy, and stereoscopic dilated fundus evaluation. Automated threshold visual fields and slit-lamp and fundus photography were done when indicated using predefined criteria.

Main outcome measures: Low vision was defined as permanent visual impairment that was not correctable with refractive error correction or surgical intervention. The participants with best-corrected distance visual acuity <6/18 to perception of light or central visual field <10 degrees because of an untreatable cause in both eyes were considered as having low vision.

Results: Low vision was present in 144 participants, an age, gender, and urban-rural distribution adjusted prevalence of 1.05% (95% confidence interval, 0.82%-1.28%). The most frequent causes of low vision included retinal diseases (35.2%), amblyopia (25.7%), optic atrophy (14.3%), glaucoma (11.4%), and corneal diseases (8.6%). Multivariate analysis showed that the prevalence of low vision was significantly higher with increasing age, and there was a trend for higher prevalence with decreasing socioeconomic status. Extrapolating these data to the estimated 1014 million population of India in the year 2000, 10.6 (95% confidence interval, 8.4-12.8) million people would have low vision.

Conclusions: These data imply that there is a significant burden of low vision in this population, suggesting the need for low vision services.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Community Health Planning*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Demography
  • Female
  • Health Services*
  • Humans
  • India / epidemiology
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Vision, Low / epidemiology*
  • Vision, Low / etiology*