Six-Year Incidence of Blindness and Visual Impairment in Kenya: The Nakuru Eye Disease Cohort Study.

Bastawrous, A. ; Mathenge, W. ; Wing, K. ; Rono, H. ; Gichangi, M. ; Weiss, H.A. ; Macleod, D. ; Foster, A. ; Burton, M.J. ; Kuper, H. ;
Six-Year Incidence of Blindness and Visual Impairment in Kenya: The Nakuru Eye Disease Cohort Study.
Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci, 2016; 57(14):5974-5983

To describe the cumulative 6-year incidence of visual impairment (VI) and blindness in an adult Kenyan population. The Nakuru Posterior Segment Eye Disease Study is a population-based sample of 4414 participants aged ≥50 years, enrolled in 2007-2008. Of these, 2170 (50%) were reexamined in 2013-2014.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and US definitions were used to calculate presenting visual acuity classifications based on logMAR visual acuity tests at baseline and follow-up. Detailed ophthalmic and anthropometric examinations as well as a questionnaire, which included past medical and ophthalmic history, were used to assess risk factors for study participation and vision loss. Cumulative incidence of VI and blindness, and factors associated with these outcomes, were estimated. Inverse probability weighting was used to adjust for nonparticipation.

Visual acuity measurements were available for 2164 (99.7%) participants. Using WHO definitions, the 6-year cumulative incidence of VI was 11.9% (95%CI [confidence interval]: 10.3-13.8%) and blindness was 1.51% (95%CI: 1.0-2.2%); using the US classification, the cumulative incidence of blindness was 2.70% (95%CI: 1.8-3.2%). Incidence of VI increased strongly with older age, and independently with being diabetic. There are an estimated 21 new cases of VI per year in people aged ≥50 years per 1000 people, of whom 3 are blind. Therefore in Kenya we estimate that there are 92,000 new cases of VI in people aged ≥50 years per year, of whom 11,600 are blind, out of a total population of approximately 4.3 million people aged 50 and above.

The incidence of VI and blindness in this older Kenyan population was considerably higher than in comparable studies worldwide. A continued effort to strengthen the eye health system is necessary to support the growing unmet need in an aging and growing population.