GBVI – Global Disaggregation of Numbers for Gender and Age

Rupert Bourne - Vision Loss Expert Group

Serge Resnikoff

Peter Ackland - IAPB

Gender disaggregation of global numbers and prevalence

Of the 253 million people in the world who are visually impaired (distance-vision loss), 55% are women (139 million).

GBM roundelA number of factors contribute to this gender imbalance, including: the life expectancy of women being longer than for men, coupled with the risk of being affected by a sight-threatening eye condition increasing as one gets older; women being at greater risk for certain eye conditions; and, in some countries, women being disadvantaged in terms of access to eye health services due to a multiplicity of socio-economic and cultural factors.

Given the differences in male and female population demographics, the age-standardised prevalence rate provides a better comparison than the crude prevalence when looking at the differences between men and women. Table 3 summarises the global age-standardised prevalence rates (all ages) for men and women. It also shows the ‘gender ratio’, i.e. the female-to-male age-standardised prevalence ratio. Globally for every one man who is visually impaired there are 1.07 women.

Age disaggregation of global numbers and prevalence

As the risk of most eye conditions increases with age, the prevalence of blindness and MSVI is much greater in older age groups.

Of the 253 million visually impaired persons, some 203 million, representing 80%, are aged 50 years or older.

Figure 1 (male) and Figure 2 (female) show the crude prevalence rate for blindness and MSVI for different age groups.

Table 3 – Age-standardised prevalence rates for men and women in 2015 at the global level
 All Ages
MenWomenGender Ratio
Blind0.46%0.49%1.07
MSVI2.79%2.99%1.07
Blind + MSVI3.25%3.48%1.07

Given the differences in male and female population demographics, the age-standardised prevalence rate provides a better comparison than the crude prevalence when looking at the differences between men and women

Figure 1 – Change in the crude prevalence rate (2015) for Males by age (global)
Figure 2 – Change in the crude prevalence rate (2015) for Females by age (global)

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