Global eyesight study wins research prize

Published: 19 November 2014 at 11:37

Research into 20 years of blindness trends picks up award from APHA

A study led by researchers at Anglia Ruskin University has been named Outstanding Scientific Paper by the American Public Health Authority’s Vision Care section.

Professor Rupert Bourne of Anglia Ruskin’s Vision and Eye Research Unit (VERU) co-ordinated the research, which used a vast range of published and unpublished data to produce figures on the main causes on vision impairment and blindness, worldwide and by geographical region, between 1990 and 2010.

The study was commissioned in 2007 by the 2010 Global Burden of Disease, Risk Factors and Injuries 2010 Study (GBD), with 79 individual ophthalmologists, optometrists, ophthalmic epidemiologists worldwide appointed to the GBD Vision Loss Expert Group (VLEG).  The VLEG reviewed literature from 1980-2010 on the prevalence, incidence, mortality, risk factors and natural history of blindness and visual impairment.

The study also provided analysis of trends over time. The results showed that worldwide blindness prevalence decreased by 37% from 1990 to 2010. Partial sightedness fell by 27%.

Professor Bourne said:

“We are delighted to receive this award in recognition of a truly international collaboration. This is a group which has about 80 individuals from all corners of the world who have assisted in the preparation of a global database of surveys of blindness and visual impairment. It is the first time such a comprehensive global database has become available.”

The award was presented at the Vision Care Section's Eye Opener Breakfast and Awards Ceremony on Tuesday, coinciding with the APHA’s annual meeting in New Orleans.

The project was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Fight for Sight, the Fred Hollows Foundation and the Brien Holden Vision Institute. The data is available in the format of interactive maps at More information about the Global Vision Database can be found at