Trends in the incidence and causes of severe visual impairment and blindness in children from Israel

Eedy Mezer*, Angela Chetrit, Ofra Kalter-Leibovici, Michael Kinori, Itay Ben-Zion, Tamara Wygnanski-Jaffe

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose To describe trends in the incidence and causes of legal childhood blindness in Israel, one of the few countries worldwide that maintain a national registry of the blind. Methods We performed a historical cohort study of annual reports of the National Registry of the Blind (NRB) between 1999 and 2013. All data regarding demographic information, year of registration and cause of blindness of children 0-18 years of age registered for blind certification were obtained from the annual reports of the NRB. Causes of legal blindness analyzed were optic atrophy, retinitis pigmentosa, retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), albinism, other retinal disorders, cataract, and glaucoma. The main outcome measure was the incidence of new cases of certified legal blindness. Results The incidence of newly registered legally blind children in Israel almost halved from 7.7 per 100,000 in 1999 to 3.1 per 100,000 in 2013. The decline was mainly attributable to a decreased incidence of blindness resulting from retinitis pigmentosa and ROP. The incidence of registered cases due to cerebral visual impairment increased. Conclusions During the past decade the incidence of severe childhood visual impairment and blindness declined in Israel. A continuous decline in consanguineous marriages among the Jewish and Arab populations in Israel may have contributed to the decrease in the rate of vision loss due to retinitis pigmentosa in children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)260-265.e1
JournalJournal of AAPOS
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2015


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