Purpose: For the past 25 years, the WHO Programme for the Prevention of Blindness and Deafness has maintained a Global Data Bank on visual impairment with the purpose of storing the available epidemiological data on blindness and low vision. The Data Bank has now been updated to include studies conducted since the last update in 1994.
Methods: An extensive literature search was conducted in international and national scientific and medical journals to identify epidemiological studies that fulfilled basic criteria for inclusion in the Data Bank, namely a clearly stated definition of blindness and low vision, and prevalence rates derived from population-based surveys. Sources such as National Prevention of Blindness Programmes, academic institutions or WHO country or regional reports were also investigated.
Results: Two-hundred-and-eight population-based studies on visual impairment for 68 countries are reported in detail, providing an up-to-date, comprehensive compilation of the available information on visual impairment and its causes globally.