Background: The prevalence and incidence of blindness in Israel appear to be comparable to other western countries. Comparisons are difficult because of different definitions of blindness, and the uniqueness of the Israeli registry for the blind.
Objective: To characterize the population who were registered as Blind in Israel in the years 1998–2003 and estimate the prevalence and incidence of blindness by age and causes of blindness.
Methods: A retrospective review of the annual report of the National Registry for the Blind in Israel between 1998 and 2003 identified 21,585 blind persons who received a certificate for blindness. Blind persons are identified by ophthalmologists throughout Israel and referred to the Registry of the Blind if they have a visual acuity of 3/60 or worse, or a visual field loss of < 20 degrees in their better eye. This report includes prevalence data on 21,585 persons enrolled in this review still alive and living in Israel in 2003. We estimated the prevalence rate of blindness nationwide and the incidence rate for each cause of blindness for every year.
Results: The main leading causes of blindness in Israel in 1998 were (in percent of the total number of newly registered patients): age-related macular degeneration (20.1%), glaucoma (13.8%), myopic maculopathy (12%), cataract (10.4%), diabetic retinopathy and maculopathy (10.1%), and optic atrophy (7.9%), and in 2003, 28%, 11.8%, 7.4%, 6.5%, 14.4% and 6.5% respectively.
Conclusions: The results indicate that the incidence of age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and maculopathy in Israel is increasing, while that of glaucoma, myopic maculopthy, optic atrophy and cataract is decreasing.