Visual Acuity and the Causes of Visual Loss in Australia. The Blue Mountains Eye Study
Australian Department of Health, Housing and Community Services, the Save Sight Institute, University of Sydney, the Ophthalmic Research Institute of Australia & the Western Sector Public Health Unit
Increasing age and female sex are independent predictors of visual impairment.
The Blue Mountains Eye Study is a population-based study of vision and the causes of visual impairment and blindness in a well-defined urban, Australian population 49 years of age and older.
Refraction improved visual acuity by one or more lines in 45% of participants and by three or more lines in 13%. Visual impairment (visual acuity 20/40 or worse in the better eye) was found in 170 participants (4.7%). Mild visual impairment (Snellen equivalent 20/40 to 20/60 in the better eye) was found in 3.4%, moderate visual impairment (20/80 to 20/160 in the better eye) in 0.6%, and severe visual impairment or blindness (20/200 or worse in the better eye) in 0.7%. Visual impairment increased with age from 0.8% of persons 49 to 54 years of age to 42% of persons 85 years of age or older. Visual impairment was significantly more frequent in females at all ages.
Among persons with severe visual impairment, 79% were female. After adjusting for age, females were less likely to achieve 20/20 best-corrected visual acuity than males (odds ratio, 0.57; confidence interval, 0.48-0.66). After adjusting for age and sex, no association was found between visual acuity and socioeconomic status. Age-related macular degeneration was the cause of blindness in 21 of the 24 persons with corrected visual acuity of 20/200 or worse.
Conclusion: Increasing age and female sex were independent predictors of visual impairment.