This Italian study, based on the National Household Health Survey (NHHS), the Registry of the Blind and the Welfare lists of the Ministry of the Interior, was designed to estimate the prevalence of blindness and hypovision in Italy and describe its geographical distribution. In addition, a national sample of 29 763 Registry members was studîed to describe causes of blindness. The prevalence from NHHS data was 4.3 per 1000 in 1983 and 4.5 in 1986–1987 (3.2 in the North, 4.6 in the Centre, 6.5 in the South). Welfare recipients were 112 783 in 1988, a prevalence of 2.0 per 1000, but were fewer in Northern than in Southern régions (range 0.7–4.8). The Registry of the Blind had 80 918 members in 1984 (prevalence 1.4 per 1000) and 106 000 in 1989 (prevalence 1.9): 3 in the South. The most frequent causes of blindness among Registry members were retinal diseases (33%) and cataract (23%). The causes of preventable blindness were more frequently reported in Southern than in Northern Italy.
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