A nationwide survey of newly certified visually impaired individuals in Japan for the fiscal year 2019: impact of the revision of criteria for visual impairment certification

Jpn J Ophthalmol. 2023 May;67(3):346-352. doi: 10.1007/s10384-023-00986-9. Epub 2023 Apr 17.


Purpose: To determine the status of visual impairment certification in Japan in the fiscal year 2019 and the impact of revising the criteria for visual impairment certification implemented in 2018.

Study design: Observational cross-sectional study.

Methods: We requested welfare offices throughout Japan to submit data of age, sex, causative diseases, and visual impairment grades for newly certified visually impaired individuals aged ≥ 18 years during the fiscal year 2019. The certification was based on criteria of the Act on Welfare of Physically Disabled Persons.

Results: Altogether, data were collected for 16,504 newly certified visually impaired individuals. The most common age group was 80-89 years (29.6%), followed by 70-79 (28.2%) and 60-69 (15.3%) years. The most common causative disease was glaucoma (40.7%), followed by retinitis pigmentosa (13.0%), diabetic retinopathy (10.2%), and macular degeneration (9.1%). The most common impairment grade was grade 2 (40.8%), followed by 5 (21.2%) and 1 (17.0%). Compared to the fiscal year 2015, there was a considerable increase in the number of individuals certified with glaucoma in the fiscal year 2019. Moreover, there was a significant increase in the number of individuals with certified grades 1 and 2 visual impairment, with a decrease in the number of individuals with certified grade 6 visual impairment.

Conclusion: The changes revealed in this study were primarily due to the revised certification criteria implemented in July 2018, indicating that it is important to review the certification criteria and to repeat surveys similar to the present study.

Keywords: Certification criteria; Glaucoma; Japan; Survey; Visual impairment.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Blindness / etiology
  • Certification
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Glaucoma* / complications
  • Glaucoma* / diagnosis
  • Glaucoma* / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Japan / epidemiology
  • Vision, Low* / epidemiology
  • Visually Impaired Persons*