To describe the causes and prevalence of moderate-to-severe visual impairment (MSVI) and blindness from corneal diseases, as well as corneal transplantation across Asia.
A meta-analysis of the published literature to identify population-based surveys conducted from 2008 to 2019 in 22 Asian countries regarding the prevalence and causes of MSVI and blindness from corneal disease, and a review of national corneal transplant data and eye bank statistics.
A total of 5307 records were screened to identify 57 reports that were used to estimate a prevalence of MSVI and blindness caused by corneal diseases in Asia of 0.38% (95% confidence interval, 0.29%-0.48%). The most frequent corneal diseases were infectious keratitis, trauma, and pseudophakic bullous keratopathy. As expected, these represented the most common indications for corneal transplantation, although the percentages in each country differed based on the level of economic development, with pseudophakic bullous keratopathy being the most common indication in countries with higher gross national income per capita. Despite this, endothelial keratoplasty is not the most commonly performed form of corneal transplantation in any Asian country and represents only a small percentage of keratoplasty procedures performed in most countries.
The prevalence of MSVI and blindness from corneal disease in Asia is approximately 0.4%, with a nearly 20-fold difference in the national prevalence across the region. The indications for keratoplasty, reflective of the causes of corneal dysfunction, also vary, more so according to the gross national income than to geographic location, and only a few Asian countries have rates of corneal transplantation above international means.