Causes of blindness and visual impairment in the West of Scotland

Eye (Lond). 2004 Mar;18(3):257-61. doi: 10.1038/sj.eye.6700606.


Aims: To determine the overall reported incidence and causes of registrable blindness and visual impairment in the West of Scotland and any trends that have occurred in the previous 16 years since data from the same area were published.

Methods: Data for analysis were obtained from BP1 registration forms returned to the Resource Centre for the Blind serving the Strathclyde region in the West of Scotland between 1 April 1996 and 31 March 1997.

Results: A total of 1595 visually handicapped people were registered during the study year. Of these, 99 forms (6.2%) were excluded from further analysis because of insufficient information. The remaining 1496 completed BP1 Forms were in respect of 530 males and 966 females. Of these, 253 males and 450 females were legally blind (total 703 or 47.0%) and 277 males and 516 females were partially sighted (total 793 or 53.0%). The five leading causes of blindness, in decreasing frequency, were age-related macular degeneration (ARMD), glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, myopic degeneration, and optic atrophy. ARMD and diabetic retinopathy were the most common causes of blindness in those over 65 years and persons of working age, respectively.

Conclusions: In adults, cataract is no longer a significant cause of registrable visual impairment. The proportions of registrations owing to glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and myopia have not significantly changed since 1983 and the proportion owing to macular degeneration has increased. In children, congenital glaucoma, cataract, and corneal infection were no longer causes of registration, but impairment of vision caused by brain damage is now a significant contributor.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Age of Onset
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Blindness / epidemiology*
  • Blindness / etiology
  • Blindness / physiopathology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Scotland / epidemiology
  • Sex Distribution
  • Vision Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Vision Disorders / etiology
  • Vision Disorders / physiopathology
  • Visual Acuity