Prevalence and causes of corneal blindness

Clin Exp Ophthalmol. 2014 Apr;42(3):249-53. doi: 10.1111/ceo.12164. Epub 2013 Aug 4.


Background: The study aimed to assess the prevalence and causes of corneal blindness in a rural northern Chinese population.

Design: Cross-sectional study.

Participants or samples: The cluster random sampling method was used to select the sample.

Methods: This population-based study included 11 787 participants of all ages in rural Heilongjiang Province, China. These participants underwent a detailed interview and eye examination that included the measurement of visual acuity, slit-lamp biomicroscopy and direct ophthalmoscopy. An eye was considered to have corneal blindness if the visual acuity was <9/18 because of corneal diseases.

Main outcome measures: The main outcome measure was prevalence rates of corneal blindness and low vision.

Results: Among the 10 384 people enrolled in the study, the prevalence of corneal blindness is 0.3% (95% confidence interval 0.2-0.4%). The leading cause was keratitis in childhood (40.0%), followed by ocular trauma (33.3%) and keratitis in adulthood (20.0%). Age and illiteracy were found to be associated with an increased prevalence of corneal blindness.

Conclusion: Blindness because of corneal diseases in rural areas of Northern China is a significant public health problem that needs to be given more attention.

Keywords: blindness; corneal diseases; population-based; rural area.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Blindness / diagnosis
  • Blindness / epidemiology*
  • Blindness / etiology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • China / epidemiology
  • Corneal Injuries
  • Corneal Opacity / diagnosis
  • Corneal Opacity / epidemiology*
  • Corneal Opacity / etiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Educational Status
  • Eye Injuries / complications
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Keratitis / complications
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Rural Population / statistics & numerical data
  • Sex Distribution
  • Visual Acuity / physiology
  • Young Adult