HomeMedicineOphthalmologyAre Levels of Visual Impairment Related to Socioeconomic Factors?

Are Levels of Visual Impairment Related to Socioeconomic Factors?

An international research team investigated whether the prevalence of visual impairment was associated with socioeconomic factors.

The third most common impairment worldwide is vision loss. In fact, approximately 223.4 million people globally had visual impairment as reported by the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries and Risk Factors Study in 2010. Moreover, the incidence of vision loss is expected to rise due to an increase in life expectancy and population growth. In fact, the World Health Organization estimated that approximately 90% of individuals with a visual impairment are in low-income settings, which poised concerns for social and economic development in these areas.

Is the Level of Visual Impairment in a Country Related to Economic Development?

An international research team aimed to identify the correlations of the prevalence of visual impairment with socioeconomic factors at country levels as well as to estimate and model a socioeconomic-adjusted disease based on the data gathered. They investigated whether there was an association between the level of visual impairment and the national level of economic development. To answer this questions researchers from China and Australia team up to gather data from 190 countries and territories.

The data included information such as the age-standardized prevalence of moderate to severe visual impairment and blindness in 2010, gross domestic product per capita, total health expenditure, and total health expenditure as percentage of GDP. The researchers also divided the countries into four different levels (low, medium, high and very high) by human development index.  The human development index is a measure that incorporates several factors of quality of life such as lifespan, level of education, and standard of living. The recently published their findings in the journal JAMA Ophthalmology.

A Strong Correlation Between Socioeconomic Development and Visual Impairment

The data that they have collected indicated that there was a strong association between prevalence rates of visual blindness and the socioeconomic level of development. Moreover, socioeconomic factors could possibly explain 69.4% of the global variations in prevalence of visual impairment and 76.3% of the global variations in prevalence of blindness.

All in all, burden of visual impairment and socioeconomic indicators were closely correlated and might help to identify countries requiring greater attention to these issues. The results of this study might provide an opportunity to estimate appropriate public health targets that are consistent with a country’s level of socioeconomic development.

Written by Alexa Deano

Reference: Wang, Wei, et al. “Association of Socioeconomics With Prevalence of Visual Impairment and Blindness.” JAMA Ophthalmology 135.12 (2017): 1295-1302.


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