Worldwide, more than 285 million people were classified as visually impaired in 2010, with 39 million classified as blind.

In Qatar, the main cause of bilateral blindness is Glaucoma (39%) and visual disability accounts for around 15% of all disabilities.

The age and sex adjusted prevalence of bilateral blindness in Qatar’s population, aged 50 years and above, is 1.28% and the prevalence of severe visual impairment and low vision are 1.67% and 3.66% respectively.

A 2009 community based survey conducted in Qatar studied the prevalence and determinants of diabetic retinopathy (DR) in persons 40 years and older. When age and sex were adjusted, the study identified that 23.5% of the population suffered from DR.

Health implications

Up to 80% of blindness in adults is avoidable through prevention or treatment. The two most avoidable causes of visual impairment are uncorrected refractive errors (42%) and cataracts (33%). People who are visually blind are often unable to carry out everyday tasks unassisted, requiring a high level of support from family or carers. Blindness and visual impairment significantly affect the quality of life for individuals and put strain on both their family and healthcare providers.

Vision Objectives

A national plan for eye health was launched in Qatar in 2014 following the Global Action Plan 2014-2019.

The Vision Objective of this strategy has taken into account analysis of the risk factors among diabetic people with retinopathy that indicates a need for universal and periodic eye screening of patients with diabetes.

Figure 14: Causes of bilateral blindness in Qatar.
(Source: Rapid Assessment of Avoidable Blindness 2009)

Vision Objectives

  1. V1Establish comprehensive and effective eye health education and screening services for the at risk population to reduce the prevalence of blindness