The burden, causes, and determinants of blindness and vision impairment in Asia: An analysis of the Global Burden of Disease Study

Minjie Zou, Aiming Chen, Zhenzhen Liu, Ling Jin, Danying Zheng, Nathan Congdon, Guangming Jin

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Asia accounts for more than half of the world's population and carries a substantial proportion of the global burden of blindness and vision impairment. Characterising this burden, as well as its causes and determinants, could help with devising targeted interventions for reducing the occurrence of blindness and visual impairment. Using the Global Burden of Disease Study 2019 database, we retrieved data on the number of disability-adjusted life years (DALYs); crude and age-standardised rates; and the prevalence (with 95% uncertainty intervals (95%UIs)) of blindness and vision loss due to six causes (age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma, near-vision impairment, refractive error, and other vision loss) for Asian countries for the period between 1990 and 2019. We defined DALYs as the sum of the years lost due to disability and years of life lost, and calculated age-standardised figures for the number of DALYs and prevalence by adjusting for population size and age structure. We then evaluated the time trend of the disease burden and conducted subgroup analyses by gender, age, geographic locations, and socio-demographic index (SDI). In 2019, the DALYs and prevalence of blindness and vision loss had risen by 90.1% and 116% compared with 1990, reaching 15.84 million DALYs (95% UI = 15.83, 15.85) and 506.71 million cases (95% UI = 506.68, 506.74). Meanwhile, the age-standardised rate of DALYs decreased from 1990 to 2019. Cataracts, refractive error, and near vision impairment were the three most common causes. South Asia had the heaviest regional disease burden (age-standardised rate of DALYs = 517 per 100 000 population; 95% UI = 512, 521). Moreover, the burden due to cataracts ranked high in most Asian populations. Being a woman; being older; and having a lower national SDI were factors associated with a greater vision loss burden. The burden due to vision loss remains high in Asian populations. Cataracts, refractive error, and near vision loss were the primary causes of blindness and vision loss. Greater investment in ocular disease prevention and care by countries with lower socioeconomic status is needed, as well as specific strategies targeting cataract management, women and the elderly.
Original languageEnglish
Article number04100
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Global Health
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jun 2024


  • Female
  • Humans
  • Prevalence
  • Child
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Disability-Adjusted Life Years
  • Adolescent
  • Child, Preschool
  • Aged
  • Cataract - epidemiology - complications
  • Blindness - epidemiology - etiology
  • Global Burden of Disease
  • Young Adult
  • Infant
  • Middle Aged
  • Asia - epidemiology
  • Adult
  • Refractive Errors - epidemiology - complications
  • Male
  • Vision, Low - epidemiology

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