Objective: We investigated the causes of blindness and moderate to severe visual impairment (MSVI) in the Niğde province of Turkey using the disability health board records of the Niğde State Hospital.
Materials and Methods: The disability health board reports of Niğde State Hospital recorded between 2011 and 2015 were retrospectively evaluated. The causes of blindness and MSVI were determined using the cause in the better-seeing eye, based on World Health Organization (WHO) criteria. The overall, age-related, and gender specific causes of blindness and MSVI were identified.
Results: During the study period, 335 subjects were recorded as blind and 381 subjects were recorded as having MSVI. The main causes of blindness were retinitis pigmentosa (14.6%), age-related macular degeneration (AMD) (12.2%), and diabetic retinopathy (12.2%). In the MSVI group, the main causes were cataract (18.4%), AMD (16.5%), and diabetic retinopathy (13.9%).
Conclusion: Retinitis pigmentosa, AMD, and diabetic retinopathy were the leading causes of blindness, and, in addition to these, cataract was a prominent cause of MSVI. The prevalence of retinitis pigmentosa was unexpectedly high in this region of Turkey, which may be due to the high frequency of consanguineous marriages that are commonly seen in Middle Eastern countries. This information is important for planning public health policies and raising public awareness of the visual impairment, given that several leading causes of visual impairment are reversible or preventable.