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A Review of the Literature on the Global Epidemiology of Corneal Blindness

Porth, Julia M. MPH*; Deiotte, Erin MPH; Dunn, Matthew BS; Bashshur, Ramona JD, MJ, CFPH§

doi: 10.1097/ICO.0000000000002122

Purpose: This study seeks to review published research on the global epidemiology of corneal blindness, with a specific focus on the available published estimates of incidence, prevalence, and trends in incidence or prevalence, as well as the contribution of corneal causes to overall burden of blindness.

Methods: A scoping review was conducted of the published literature on the global epidemiology of corneal blindness, with emphasis on prevalence and incidence studies. Four databases were searched using both epidemiological and corneal blindness keywords. This review was limited to studies with a primary aim of determining the incidence, prevalence, or trends in corneal blindness or the percentage of blindness due to corneal causes. Only conditions considered to signify current blindness were included, not diseases that eventually could lead to blindness if left untreated.

Results: A total of 185 articles met the selection criteria. Of these, 145 articles investigated all-cause blindness prevalence. Only 10 articles specifically aimed to determine estimates of corneal blindness prevalence, 7 articles provided results for all-cause blindness incidence, and no studies focused on obtaining corneal blindness incidence. Data on corneal blindness were most often present in studies investigating all-cause blindness and in trachoma studies.

Conclusions: The results demonstrate the somewhat inconsistent and fragmented information regarding corneal causes of vision loss. A significant outcome of this research is the demonstration of a need for further research into global corneal blindness and the necessary steps to address the problem.

*Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI;

Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, School of Public Health, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI;

Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, College of Literature, Science and Arts, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI; and

§Global Development, Eversight, Ann Arbor, MI

Correspondence: Ramona Bashshur, JD, MJ, CFPH, Global Development, Eversight, 3985 Research Park Drive, Ann Arbor, MI 48108 (e-mail:

J. M. Porth and E. Deiotte were Marilyn R. Lindenauer interns at Eversight; R. Bashshur is currently employed at Eversight.

The authors have no funding to disclose.

Supplemental digital content is available for this article. Direct URL citations appear in the printed text and are provided in the HTML and PDF versions of this article on the journal's Web site (

Received January 11, 2019

Received in revised form July 08, 2019

Accepted July 09, 2019

Online date: August 19, 2019

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