National Registry for the Blind in Israel: estimation of prevalence and incidence rates and causes of blindness

Ophthalmic Epidemiol. 2003 Oct;10(4):267-77. doi: 10.1076/opep.


Objective: To describe the population registered as blind in Israel and estimate the prevalence and incidence of blindness, by age, sex and the causes of blindness.

Methods: Israel has maintained a Registry for the Blind since 1987. Patients are identified by ophthalmologists and registered if they have a visual acuity of < or = 0.05 (20/400) or a visual field of < 20 degrees radius in their better eye. The Registry consists of all eligible citizens living in Israel at the time of registration. This report includes prevalence data on 18,891 persons enrolled in the Registry from 1987-1999 and still alive and living in Israel in 1999, and incidence data on 2,511 persons newly registered in 1999. Data were collected on visual acuity and visual field loss, cause of blindness, and patient demographics.

Results: In 1999, the estimated prevalence rate of blindness nationwide was 0.31% and the estimated incidence rate was 0.037%. The major causes of blindness in the complete Registry were age related macular degeneration (AMD) and glaucoma (14%), followed by diabetic retinopathy (11%), cataract and myopic maculopathy (10%), and optic atrophy (8.4%). The leading causes of newly diagnosed blindness were age-related macular degeneration (AMD) (20%), glaucoma (14%), diabetic retinopathy (12%), myopic maculopathy (11%), and optic atrophy and cataract (10%).

Conclusions: Israel has one of the few nationwide blindness registries in the world. The prevalence and incidence of blindness in Israel appear to be comparable to other western countries. Comparisons are difficult because of different definitions of blindness, age distributions, and the uniqueness of the Israeli Registry.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Blindness / epidemiology*
  • Blindness / etiology*
  • Cataract / complications
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diabetic Retinopathy / complications
  • Female
  • Glaucoma / complications
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Israel / epidemiology
  • Macular Degeneration / complications
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Optic Atrophy / complications
  • Prevalence
  • Registries / statistics & numerical data*
  • Sex Distribution
  • Visual Acuity