Leading causes of certifiable visual loss in England and Wales during the year ending 31 March 2013

Eye (Lond). 2016 Apr;30(4):602-7. doi: 10.1038/eye.2015.288. Epub 2016 Jan 29.


Purpose: The last article on causes of sight impairment (SI) in England and Wales was for April 2007-March 2008. This report updates these figures for April 2012-March 2013.

Methods: In England and Wales, registration for SI is initiated by completion of a certificate of vision impairment (CVI). The main cause of visual impairment was ascertained for certificates completed April 2012-March 2013. A proportional comparison against April 2007-March 2008 was made.

Results: We received 24 009 CVIs of which 10 410 were for severe sight impairment (SSI) and 13 129 were for SI. These numbers were slightly higher than those observed in April 2007-March 2008 (9823 SSI; 12 607 SI). The ratio SI:SSI has remained static with 55% of all certifications being SI. The proportion of certificates without a single main cause has fallen slightly (16.6 to 14%). The proportion of certificates with a main cause of degeneration of the macula and posterior pole (mostly age-related macular degeneration (AMD)) decreased from 58.6 to 50% SSI and from 57.2 to 52.5% SI. Glaucoma remains the second most common cause (11% SSI; 7.6% SI) but hereditary retinal disorders overtook diabetes as third leading cause of SSI.

Conclusion: AMD is still by far the leading cause of certifications for sight impairment in England and Wales (both SI and SSI). Proportionate changes have been observed since 2008, but it is important to note that a proportionate increase in one condition will impact on others.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Blindness / epidemiology*
  • Blindness / etiology
  • Diabetic Retinopathy / complications
  • Diabetic Retinopathy / epidemiology
  • Disability Evaluation
  • England / epidemiology
  • Eye Diseases / complications
  • Eye Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Glaucoma / complications
  • Glaucoma / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Macular Degeneration / complications
  • Macular Degeneration / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Optic Atrophy / complications
  • Optic Atrophy / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Registries / statistics & numerical data
  • Retinal Diseases / complications
  • Retinal Diseases / epidemiology
  • Vision, Low / epidemiology*
  • Vision, Low / etiology
  • Wales / epidemiology