Prevalence and causes of blindness, visual impairment among different ethnical minority groups in Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, China

Yanping Li, Wenyong Huang, Aoyun Qiqige, Hongwei Zhang, Ling Jin, Pula Ti, Jennifer Yip, Baixiang Xiao*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The aim of this cross-sectional study is to ascertain the prevalence and causes of blindness, visual impairment, uptake of cataract surgery among different ethnic groups in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, China. Methods: Four thousand one hundred fifty people at 50 years and above from different minority ethnic groups were randomly selected for an eye examination. The four trained eye teams collected data using tumbling E visual chart, torch, portable slit lamp and direct ophthalmoscope in 2015. The World Health Organization's definition of blindness and visual impairment (VI) was used to classify patients in each ethnic group. Data were analyzed by different minority groups and were compared with Han Chinese. Results: 3977 (95.8%) out of 4150 people were examined. The prevalence of blindness from the study population was 1.7% (95% confidence interval: 1.3-2.2%).There was no significant difference in prevalence of blindness between Han Chinese and people of Khazak and other minority ethnic groups, nor, between male and female. Cataract was the leading course (65.5%) of blindness and uncorrected refractive error was the most common cause of VI (36.3%) followed by myopic retinopathy. The most common barrier to cataract surgery was lack of awareness of service availability. Conclusions: This study documented a low blindness prevalence among people aged 50 years and over comparing to prevalence identified through studies of other regions in China. It still indicates blindness and un-operated cataract as the significant public health issue, with no evidence of eye health inequalities, but some inequities in accessing to cataract surgery amongst ethnic minority groups in Xinjiang.

Original languageEnglish
Article number41
JournalBMC Ophthalmology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 13 Feb 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The study was fully funded by the Fred Hollows Foundation, Sydney, without specific funding code. None of the authors have any proprietary interests or conflicts of interest in relation to this submission.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 The Author(s).


  • Cataract surgical coverage
  • China
  • Equity
  • Ethnical minority groups
  • Eye services
  • Prevalence of blindness
  • Xinjiang


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