Geographic variation identified in prevalence of visual acuity loss

Elizabeth A. Lundeen, Ph.D., M.P.H., from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and colleagues combined multiple data sets to produce county-level prevalence estimates for visual acuity loss or blindness. The combined prevalence of visual acuity or blindness was calculated by age, sex, race, and ethnicity using data from five population-based studies.

The researchers observed considerable geographic variation in county-level prevalence of visual acuity loss or blindness. There was variation noted in the crude prevalence, from 0.75 to 13.16 percent in Douglas County, Colorado, and Kalawao County, Hawaii, respectively. The standardized prevalence varied from 0.99 to 10.88 percent in Cumberland County, Maine, and Clay County, Kentucky, respectively. There was a positive correlation between county-level standardized visual acuity loss or blindness prevalence and the percentage of the county’s population living below the poverty level.

“Data identifying geographic variation in the prevalence of visual acuity loss can be used to guide interventions to improve eye care services, as counties with a higher prevalence of visual acuity loss may have less access to and use of eye care services,” the authors write.

One author disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.