A nationwide population-based study of low vision and blindness in South Korea

Shin Hae Park, Ji Sung Lee, Hwan Heo, Young Woo Suh, Seung Hyun Kim, Key Hwan Lim, Nam Ju Moon, Sung Jin Lee, Song Hee Park, Seung Hee Baek

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17 Scopus citations


Purpose. To investigate the prevalence and associated risk factors of low vision and blindness in the Korean population.

Methods. This cross-sectional, population-based study examined the ophthalmologic data of 22,135 Koreans aged ≥5 years from the fifth Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (KNHANES V, 2010–2012). According to the World Health Organization criteria, blindness was defined as visual acuity (VA) less than 20/400 in the better-seeing eye, and low vision as VA of 20/60 or worse but 20/400 or better in the better-seeing eye. The prevalence rates were calculated from either presenting VA (PVA) or best-corrected VA (BCVA). Multivariate regression analysis was conducted for adults aged ≥20 years.

Results. The overall prevalence rates of PVA-defined low vision and blindness were 4.98% and 0.26%, respectively, and those of BCVA-defined low vision and blindness were 0.46% and 0.05%, respectively. Prevalence increased rapidly above the age of 70 years. For subjects aged ≥70 years, the population-weighted prevalence rates of low vision, based on PVA and BCVA, were 12.85% and 3.87%, respectively, and the corresponding rates of blindness were 0.49% and 0.42%, respectively. The presenting vision problems were significantly associated with age (younger adults or elderly subjects), female sex, low educational level, and lowest household income, whereas the best-corrected vision problems were associated with age ≥70 years, a low educational level, and rural residence.

Conclusions. This population-based study provides useful information for planning optimal public eye health care services in South Korea.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)484-493
Number of pages10
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - 7 Dec 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 The Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, Inc.


  • Blindness
  • Low vision
  • South Korea
  • Visual impairment


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