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Editorial |

Global Burden of Visual Impairment and Blindness

Rupert Bourne, BSc, FRCOphth, MD; Holly Price, BSc, PhD; Gretchen Stevens, DSc; for the GBD Vision Loss Expert Group
Arch Ophthalmol. 2012;130(5):645-647. doi:10.1001/archophthalmol.2012.1032.
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Vision loss and age-related eye diseases are major global public health problems. The Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study (hereafter referred to as the GBD Study) was commissioned by the World Bank in 1991 to provide a comprehensive assessment of the burden of 107 diseases and injuries, and 10 selected risk factors, for the world, specifically including data from 8 major regions. The methods of the original GBD Study (hereafter referred to as the GBD 1990 Study) created a common metric, the disability-adjusted life-year,1 which extends the concept of potential years of life lost due to premature death to include equivalent years of “healthy” life lost by virtue of being in poor health or disability. The number of disability-adjusted life-years caused by a disease or injury are calculated as the sum of the years of life lost due to premature mortality in the population and the years lost due to disability (YLD) for incident cases of the disease or injury.

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Figure 1. Data availability plot for studies conducted between 1980 and 2012, identified by the systematic review of the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study that reported distance visual impairment and blindness, organized by region, with survey year and population representativeness highlighted. The size of each circle corresponds to the number of data sources identified. The colors indicate whether the population sampled by each study is national in scope, subnational (a first administrative unit or greater, which includes a state or region), or local (a community or district).

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Figure 2. Global plot of data sources reporting distance visual impairment and blindness identified by the Global Burden of Diseases Vision Loss Expert Group systematic review (studies conducted between 1980 and 2012).

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