Prevalence and causes of low vision and blindness in an urban population: The Chennai Glaucoma Study

Indian J Ophthalmol. 2014 Apr;62(4):477-81. doi: 10.4103/0301-4738.111186.


Aim: To evaluate the prevalence and causes of low vision and blindness in an urban south Indian population.

Settings and design: Population-based cross-sectional study. Exactly 3850 subjects aged 40 years and above from Chennai city were examined at a dedicated facility in the base hospital.

Materials and methods: All subjects had a complete ophthalmic examination that included best-corrected visual acuity. Low vision and blindness were defined using World Health Organization (WHO) criteria. The influence of age, gender, literacy, and occupation was assessed using multiple logistic regression.

Statistical analysis: Chi-square test, t-test, and multivariate analysis were used.

Results: Of the 4800 enumerated subjects, 3850 subjects (1710 males, 2140 females) were examined (response rate, 80.2%). The prevalence of blindness was 0.85% (95% CI 0.6-1.1%) and was positively associated with age and illiteracy. Cataract was the leading cause (57.6%) and glaucoma was the second cause (16.7%) for blindness. The prevalence of low vision was 2.9% (95% CI 2.4-3.4%) and visual impairment (blindness + low vision) was 3.8% (95% CI 3.2-4.4%). The primary causes for low vision were refractive errors (68%) and cataract (22%).

Conclusions: In this urban population based study, cataract was the leading cause for blindness and refractive error was the main reason for low vision.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Blindness / epidemiology*
  • Blindness / etiology
  • Cataract / complications*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Glaucoma / complications*
  • Humans
  • India / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Refractive Errors / complications*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Urban Population*
  • Vision, Low / epidemiology*
  • Vision, Low / etiology
  • Visual Acuity