Background: The causes of blindness among Navajo Indians, an ethnically distinct community within the United States, were last studied in 1982. This article presents an updated report on the causes of blindness among the Navajo.
Methods: Staff optometrists at each of the hospitals and clinics on the Navajo Reservation collected information for each affected eye: date of onset, cause, blinding process, and best visual acuity. In terms of the total number of eyes affected, it was found that the most frequently encountered etiology was trauma, followed by congenital causes, diabetes mellitus, primary open-angle glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, and trachoma.
Conclusions: Considering raw numbers as well as preventability, it is suggested that trauma, diabetes mellitus, and primary open-angle glaucoma be targeted for a focused intervention of patient-as well as public-education aimed at reducing blindness from these causes.