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Eur J Epidemiol. 2012 Jul;27(7):519-24. doi: 10.1007/s10654-012-9705-7. Epub 2012 Jun 19.

Evidence for a considerable decrease in total and cause-specific incidences of blindness in Germany.

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Institute of Biometrics and Epidemiology, German Diabetes Centre at the Heinrich-Heine-University, Leibniz Centre for Diabetes Research, Auf'm Hennekamp 65, 40225, Düsseldorf, Germany.


The objectives of this study are to estimate the recent population-based incidences of all-cause and cause-specific blindness in Germany and compare them with results from a similar study conducted in 1994-1998. All blindness allowance recipients newly registered between January 2008 and December 2009 in a region in southern Germany (population, approximately 3.5 million) were assessed and their ophthalmological reports reviewed. The main causes of blindness were identified and their incidences estimated. There were 572 newly registered cases of blindness allowance. The all-cause incidence of blindness (per 100,000 person-years) in the general population was 8.4 (95 % confidence interval, 7.8-9.2), and the highest incidences were for macular degeneration (3.4; 3.0-3.9), diabetic retinopathy (0.8; 0.6-1.1) and glaucoma (0.7; 0.5-0.9). During the last two decades, blindness incidences decreased for all the main causes (standardised to the West German population 1991: 12.3; 11.9-12.7 in 1994-1998 vs. 7.3; 6.7-8.0 in 2008-2009). The highest absolute decrease was for macular degeneration and the highest relative decrease was for cataract. The most frequent main causes of blindness in Germany remained macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma. Our findings suggest a remarkable decrease in the incidences of blindness, probably because of new diagnostic options and effective treatments.

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