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Invited Commentary
November 21, 2018

Looking Within Rather Than Between Countries to Understand the Risk Factors for Vision Impairment

Author Affiliations
  • 1Vision & Eye Research Unit, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • 2Cambridge University Hospitals, Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • 3Department of Ophthalmology, Medical Faculty Mannheim, Heidelberg University, Mannheim, Germany
  • 4Brien Holden Vision Institute, Sydney, Australia
JAMA Ophthalmol. 2019;137(2):158-159. doi:10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2018.5448

In this issue of JAMA Ophthalmology, an article by Ehrlich et al1 reports on the vision impairment findings of the World Health Organization’s Study on Global Aging and Adult Health (SAGE) study. The SAGE study is a longitudinal research project collecting nationally representative data on adults 50 years and older and a smaller comparison sample of adults aged 18 to 49 years in China, Ghana, India, Mexico, the Russian Federation, and South Africa. The first wave of data collection occurred between 2007 and 2010.2 Because the study was supported by the US National Institute on Aging, Division of Behavioral and Social Research, national governments, and the World Health Organization, the microdata and weighted metadata are in the public domain. Ehrlich et al1 used these data to look at a series of nonophthalmological factors associated with presenting impairments in distance and near vision in each country; these included health, well-being, demographics, and the socioeconomic circumstances of participants and their households. There have been relatively few multicountry studies that combine measured vision loss and risk factors in older adults, and this study sheds an important light on these associations within low- and-middle-income countries (which make up 84% of the global population). There are several reasons why this article is worthy of comment.

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