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Year : 2012  |  Volume : 60  |  Issue : 5  |  Page : 368-375

Social inequalities in blindness and visual impairment: A review of social determinants

1 Department of Optometry, UNESCO Chair of Visual Health, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain
2 Latin America International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness, WY, USA
3 Strategic Solutions, Inc., Cody, WY, USA

Correspondence Address:
Van C Lansingh
3720 San Simeon Cr, Weston, FL 33331
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Source of Support: ORBIS International, Conflict of Interest: Rius: none; Lansingh: employee of the International Association for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB); Guisasola: none; Carter: paid consultant to IAPB; Eckert: paid consultant to Strategic Solutions

DOI: 10.4103/0301-4738.100529

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Health inequities are related to social determinants based on gender, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, race, living in a specific geographic region, or having a specific health condition. Such inequities were reviewed for blindness and visual impairment by searching for studies on the subject in PubMed from 2000 to 2011 in the English and Spanish languages. The goal of this article is to provide a current review in understanding how inequities based specifically on the aforementioned social determinants on health influence the prevalence of visual impairment and blindness. With regards to gender inequality, women have a higher prevalence of visual impairment and blindness, which cannot be only reasoned based on age or access to service. Socioeconomic status measured as higher income, higher educational status, or non-manual occupational social class was inversely associated with prevalence of blindness or visual impairment. Ethnicity and race were associated with visual impairment and blindness, although there is general confusion over this socioeconomic position determinant. Geographic inequalities and visual impairment were related to income (of the region, nation or continent), living in a rural area, and an association with socioeconomic and political context was suggested. While inequalities related to blindness and visual impairment have rarely been specifically addressed in research, there is still evidence of the association of social determinants and prevalence of blindness and visual impairment. Additional research should be done on the associations with intermediary determinants and socioeconomic and political context.

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