European Journal of Epidemiology

, Volume 27, Issue 7, pp 519–524 | Cite as

Evidence for a considerable decrease in total and cause-specific incidences of blindness in Germany

  • Heiner ClaessenEmail author
  • Jutta Genz
  • Bernd Bertram
  • Christoph Trautner
  • Guido Giani
  • Iris Zöllner
  • Andrea Icks


The objectives of this study are to estimate the recent population-based incidences of all-cause and cause-specific blindness in Germany and compare them with results from a similar study conducted in 1994–1998. All blindness allowance recipients newly registered between January 2008 and December 2009 in a region in southern Germany (population, approximately 3.5 million) were assessed and their ophthalmological reports reviewed. The main causes of blindness were identified and their incidences estimated. There were 572 newly registered cases of blindness allowance. The all-cause incidence of blindness (per 100,000 person-years) in the general population was 8.4 (95 % confidence interval, 7.8–9.2), and the highest incidences were for macular degeneration (3.4; 3.0–3.9), diabetic retinopathy (0.8; 0.6–1.1) and glaucoma (0.7; 0.5–0.9). During the last two decades, blindness incidences decreased for all the main causes (standardised to the West German population 1991: 12.3; 11.9–12.7 in 1994–1998 vs. 7.3; 6.7–8.0 in 2008–2009). The highest absolute decrease was for macular degeneration and the highest relative decrease was for cataract. The most frequent main causes of blindness in Germany remained macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma. Our findings suggest a remarkable decrease in the incidences of blindness, probably because of new diagnostic options and effective treatments.


Blindness Germany Incidences Cause-specific blindness incidences 



The authors would like to thank all administrative districts for the opportunity to analyse their data. We thank Ms. Agnes Christner, councilor at the Städtetag Baden-Württemberg, Ms. Christa Heilemann, councilor at the Landkreistag Baden-Württemberg and Mr. Andreas Grau of the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Social Affairs for providing us with statistical data. We also thank Silke Haidekker, PhD, ELS, for editing the paper and revising the English language used in this manuscript. The project was supported by a grant from the German Ministry of Health and the German Diabetes Foundation. The German Diabetes Centre is financed by the German Federal Ministry of Health and by the Northrhine-Westphalian Ministry of Science.

Conflict of interest

All authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest. We declare that the results presented in this paper have not been published previously in whole or in part.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Heiner Claessen
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jutta Genz
    • 1
  • Bernd Bertram
    • 2
  • Christoph Trautner
    • 3
  • Guido Giani
    • 1
  • Iris Zöllner
    • 4
  • Andrea Icks
    • 1
    • 5
  1. 1.Institute of Biometrics and Epidemiology, German Diabetes Centre at the Heinrich-Heine-UniversityLeibniz Centre for Diabetes ResearchDüsseldorfGermany
  2. 2.Ophthalmologic OfficeAachenGermany
  3. 3.Department of Public HealthUniversity of Applied Sciences, Braunschweig/WolfenbüttelWolfsburgGermany
  4. 4.Department of Epidemiology and Health Care ResearchBaden-Württemberg State Health OfficeStuttgartGermany
  5. 5.Department of Public Health, Faculty of MedicineHeinrich-Heine-UniversityDüsseldorfGermany

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