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Blindness Rate Falls in Developed Countries, Study Finds

Update Date: Mar 25, 2014 10:00 AM EDT

Developed nations throughout the world have another health "win" to celebrate. According to the latest numbers, a new study discovered that the blindness and poor vision rates have plummeted over the past 20 years in developed nations.

For this report, the researchers examined data from 243 studies that were conducted in 190 nations. From 1990 through to 2010, the researchers found that the rate of blindness fell by 37 percent. The rate of poor vision fell by 27 percent within the same time period. The researchers found that these reductions were the greatest in developed, rich nations.

In developed countries, the number of blindness cases fell from 3.3 million people to 2.7 millions. The prevalence rate of poor vision fell from 25.4 million people to 22.2 million people. Aside from examining these rates, the researchers also found that women were more likely than men to have some kind of vision impairment.

The most common cause of blindness throughout the world with the exception of central and eastern European countries was macular degeneration replaced cataracts. The most common cause of poor vision was uncorrected refractive errors. The researchers reported that if countries were better able to fix these errors, such as long and short-sightedness, the rates for poor vision could fall even more.

"For the highly developed countries one of the most effective, cheapest, and safest ways of improving vision loss by providing adequate spectacles for correcting refractive errors, is being overlooked," study author Rupert Bourne, a professor with the vision and eye research unit at Anglia Ruskin University, in Cambridge, England, and colleagues wrote reported by Philly.

The study, "Prevalence and causes of vision loss in high-income countries and in Eastern and Central Europe: 1990-2010," was published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology.

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