Number of People Blind or Visually Impaired by Cataract Worldwide and in World Regions, 1990 to 2010

Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2015 Oct;56(11):6762-9. doi: 10.1167/iovs.15-17201.


Purpose: To estimate prevalence and number of people visually impaired or blind due to cataract.

Methods: Based on the Global Burden of Diseases Study 2010 and ongoing literature research, we examined how many people were affected by moderate to severe vision impairment (MSVI; presenting visual acuity <6/18, ≥3/60) and blindness (presenting visual acuity <3/60) due to cataract.

Results: In 2010, of overall 32.4 million blind and 191 million vision impaired, 10.8 million people were blind and 35.1 million were visually impaired due to cataract. Cataract caused worldwide 33.4% of all blindness in 2010, and 18.4% of all MSVI. These figures were lower in the high-income regions (<15%) and higher (>40%) in South and Southeast Asia and Oceania. From 1990 to 2010, the number of blind or visually impaired due to cataract decreased by 11.4% and by 20.2%, respectively; the age-standardized global prevalence of cataract-related blindness and MSVI reduced by 46% and 50%, respectively, and the worldwide crude prevalence of cataract-related blindness and MSVI reduced by 32% and 39%, respectively. The percentage of global blindness and MSVI caused by cataract decreased from 38.6% to 33.4%, and from 25.6% to 18.4%, respectively. This decrease took place in almost all world regions, except East Sub-Saharan Africa.

Conclusions: In 2010, one in three blind people was blind due to cataract, and one of six visually impaired people was visually impaired due to cataract. Despite major improvements in terms of reduction of prevalence, cataract remains a major public health problem.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Blindness / epidemiology*
  • Blindness / etiology
  • Cataract / complications
  • Cataract / epidemiology*
  • Developed Countries / statistics & numerical data
  • Developing Countries / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Global Health / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Vision, Low / epidemiology*
  • Vision, Low / etiology
  • Visual Acuity