The Prevalence and Causes of Vision Loss in Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Australians: The National Eye Health Survey

Joshua Foreman, Jing Xie, Stuart Keel, Peter van Wijngaarden, Sukhpal Singh Sandhu, Ghee Soon Ang, Jennifer Fan Gaskin, Jonathan Crowston, Rupert Bourne, Hugh R. Taylor, Mohamed Dirani

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21 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Purpose To conduct a nationwide survey on the prevalence and causes of vision loss in Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. Design Nationwide, cross-sectional, population-based survey. Participants Indigenous Australians aged 40 years or older and non-Indigenous Australians aged 50 years and older. Methods Multistage random-cluster sampling was used to select 3098 non-Indigenous Australians and 1738 Indigenous Australians from 30 sites across 5 remoteness strata (response rate of 71.5%). Sociodemographic and health data were collected using an interviewer-administered questionnaire. Trained examiners conducted standardized eye examinations, including visual acuity, perimetry, slit-lamp examination, intraocular pressure, and fundus photography. The prevalence and main causes of bilateral presenting vision loss (visual acuity <6/12 in the better eye) were determined, and risk factors were identified. Main Outcome Measures Prevalence and main causes of vision loss. Results The overall prevalence of vision loss in Australia was 6.6% (95% confidence interval [CI], 5.4–7.8). The prevalence of vision loss was 11.2% (95% CI, 9.5–13.1) in Indigenous Australians and 6.5% (95% CI, 5.3–7.9) in non-Indigenous Australians. Vision loss was 2.8 times more prevalent in Indigenous Australians than in non-Indigenous Australians after age and gender adjustment (17.7%, 95% CI, 14.5–21.0 vs. 6.4%, 95% CI, 5.2–7.6, P < 0.001). In non-Indigenous Australians, the leading causes of vision loss were uncorrected refractive error (61.3%), cataract (13.2%), and age-related macular degeneration (10.3%). In Indigenous Australians, the leading causes of vision loss were uncorrected refractive error (60.8%), cataract (20.1%), and diabetic retinopathy (5.2%). In non-Indigenous Australians, increasing age (odds ratio [OR], 1.72 per decade) and having not had an eye examination within the past year (OR, 1.61) were risk factors for vision loss. Risk factors in Indigenous Australians included older age (OR, 1.61 per decade), remoteness (OR, 2.02), gender (OR, 0.60 for men), and diabetes in combination with never having had an eye examination (OR, 14.47). Conclusions Vision loss is more prevalent in Indigenous Australians than in non-Indigenous Australians, highlighting that improvements in eye healthcare in Indigenous communities are required. The leading causes of vision loss were uncorrected refractive error and cataract, which are readily treatable. Other countries with Indigenous communities may benefit from conducting similar surveys of Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1743-1752
Number of pages10
JournalOphthalmology
Volume124
Issue number12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017
Externally publishedYes

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