Population-based study of presbyopia in rural Tanzania

Ophthalmology. 2006 May;113(5):723-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ophtha.2006.01.030.


Objective: To determine the prevalence of presbyopia in a rural African population.

Design: Cross-sectional prevalence study.

Participants: One thousand seven hundred nine persons age 40 years and older who resided in 3 villages and randomly selected neighborhoods of Kongwa town, Tanzania.

Methods: Eligible persons were refracted and given best distance correction. Near vision was tested and corrected to the nearest 0.5 diopter. Presbyopia was defined as at least 1 line of improvement on a near visual acuity chart with an addition of a plus lens.

Results: A total of 61.7% of eligible participants were presbyopic. A higher prevalence of presbyopia was associated with increased age, female gender, higher educational level, and residence in town (odds ratio = 3.09; 95% confidence interval: 2.46-3.90). The odds of developing presbyopia increased 16% per year of age from age 40 to 50, but the increase was nonsignificant at 1% per year after age 50. More severe presbyopia was associated with female gender and less with education.

Conclusions: This study provides the first population-based data on prevalence of presbyopia in a large, random sample of older Africans and suggests a high rate of presbyopia. Presbyopia plateaus after age 50, and it is more common in females. In addition, the 3-fold increased odds in town versus village dwellers was unexpected and suggests that research of other factors, including environmental factors, is warranted.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Educational Status
  • Eyeglasses / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Population Surveillance
  • Presbyopia / diagnosis
  • Presbyopia / epidemiology*
  • Presbyopia / therapy
  • Prevalence
  • Refraction, Ocular
  • Risk Factors
  • Rural Population / statistics & numerical data*
  • Sex Factors
  • Tanzania / epidemiology
  • Vision Screening
  • Visual Acuity