Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Prevalence and pattern of vitreo-retinal diseases in Nepal: the Bhaktapur glaucoma study

Suman S Thapa*, Raba Thapa, Indira Paudyal, Shankar Khanal, Jaskirat Aujla, Govinda Paudyal and Ger van Rens

Author Affiliations

Nepal Glaucoma Eye Clinic, Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology, Kathmandu, Nepal

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BMC Ophthalmology 2013, 13:9  doi:10.1186/1471-2415-13-9

Published: 28 March 2013



Vitreo-retinal diseases are among the leading causes of visual impairment and blindness worldwide. This study reports the prevalence and pattern of vitreo-retinal diseases in the Bhaktapur Glaucoma Study (BGS), a population based study conducted in Nepal.


BGS was a population based cross-sectional study involving 4800 subjects aged 40 years and over from Bhaktapur district. Subjects were selected using a cluster sampling methodology and a door-to-door enumeration. All subjects underwent a detailed ocular examination at the base hospital which included log MAR visual acuity, refraction, applanation tonometry and a dilated fundus examination. Fundus photography, optical coherence tomography and fundus fluorescein angiography were performed where indicated.


Complete data was available for 3966 (82.62%) out of the total of 4800 enumerated subjects. The mean age was 55.08 years (SD 11.51). The overall prevalence of vitreo-retinal disorders was 5.35% (95% CI, 4.67 - 6.09). Increasing age was associated with a higher prevalence of vitreo-retinal disorders (P < 0.001). The prevalence of diabetes mellitus was 7.69% (95% CI, 6.88 - 8.56). Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) was the most common vitreo-retinal disorder with a prevalence of 1.50% (95% CI, 1.15 - 1.94), increasing significantly with age. The prevalence of diabetic retinopathy among the study population was 0.78% (95% CI, 0.53 - 1.11) and among the diabetic population 10.16% (95% CI, 7.01 - 14.12). The population prevalence of other retinal disorders were hypertensive retinopathy 0.88%, macular scar 0.37%, retinal vein occlusion 0.50%, macular hole 0.20%, retinitis pigmentosa 0.12%. and retinal detachment 0.10%.

The prevalence of low vision and blindness due to vitreo-retinal disorders was 1.53% (95% CI, 1.18 - 1.97) and 0.65% (95% CI, 0.43 - 0.96), respectively. The prevalence of low vision and blindness was 28.77% (95% CI, 22.78-35.37) and 12.26% (95% CI, 8.17-17.45), respectively among cases with vitreo-retinal disorders. Blindness was observed to be unilateral in 19 cases (73%), and bilateral in 7 cases (27%).


The prevalence of vitreo-retinal disorders in this Nepalese population was 5.35%, which increased significantly with age. AMD was the predominant retinal condition followed by diabetic retinopathy. One fourth of the subjects with vitreo-retinal disorder had low vision. Taking into consideration the aging population and emerging systemic diseases such as diabetes mellitus and hypertension, vitreo-retinal disorders could be of future public health importance.

Vitreo-retinal disorders; Prevalence; Low vision; Blindness; Nepal