Purpose: To estimate the prevalence of blindness, visual impairment, diabetes, and diabetic retinopathy in north Jordan (Irbid) using the rapid assessment of avoidable blindness and diabetic retinopathy methodology.
Methods: A multistage cluster random sampling technique was used to select participants for this survey. A total of 108 clusters were selected using probability proportional to size method while subjects within the clusters were selected using compact segment method. Survey teams moved from house to house in selected segments examining residents 50 years and older until 35 participants were recruited. All eligible people underwent a standardized examination protocol, which included ophthalmic examination and random blood sugar test using digital glucometers (Accu-Chek) in their homes. Diabetic retinopathy among diabetic patients was assessed through dilated fundus examination.
Results: A total of 3638 out of the 3780 eligible participants were examined. Age- and sex-adjusted prevalence of blindness, severe visual impairment, and visual impairment with available correction were 1.33% (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.87-1.73), 1.82% (95% CI 1.35-2.25), and 9.49% (95% CI 8.26-10.74), respectively, all higher in women. Untreated cataract and diabetic retinopathy were the major causes of blindness, accounting for 46.7% and 33.2% of total blindness cases, respectively. Glaucoma was the third major cause, accounting for 8.9% of cases. The prevalence of diabetes mellitus was 28.6% (95% CI 26.9-30.3) among the study population and higher in women. The prevalence of any retinopathy among diabetic patients was 48.4%.
Conclusions: Cataract and diabetic retinopathy are the 2 major causes of blindness and visual impairment in northern Jordan. For both conditions, women are primarily affected, suggesting possible limitations to access to services. A diabetic retinopathy screening program needs to proactively create sex-sensitive awareness and provide easily accessible screening services with prompt treatment.