Global and regional estimates of prevalence of amblyopia: A systematic review and meta-analysis
Background: Amblyopia is one of the most important causes of vision impairment in the world, especially in children. Although its prevalence varies in different parts of the world, no study has evaluated its prevalence in different geographical regions comprehensively. The aim of the present study was to provide global and regional estimates of the prevalence of amblyopia in different age groups via a systematic search. Methods: In this study, international databases, including Embase, Scopus, PubMed, Web of Science, and other relevant databases, were searched systematically to find articles on the prevalence of amblyopia in different age groups published in English. The prevalence and 95% CI were calculated using binomial distribution. The Cochran’s Q-test and I2 statistic were applied to assess heterogeneity, a random-effects model was used to estimate the pooled prevalence, and a meta-regression method was utilized to investigate the factors affecting heterogeneity between studies. Results: Of 1252 studies, 73 studies were included in the analysis (sample volume: 530,252). Most of these studies (n = 25) were conducted in the WHO-Western Pacific Regional Office. The pooled prevalence estimate of amblyopia was 1.75% (95% CI: 1.62–1.88), with the highest estimate in European Regional Office (3.67%, 95% CI: 2.89–4.45) and the lowest in African Regional Office (0.51%, 95% CI: 0.24–0.78). The most common cause of amblyopia was anisometropia (61.64%). The I2 heterogeneity was 98% (p < 0.001). According to the results of univariate meta-regression, the variables of WHO region (b: 0.566, p < 0.001), sample size (b: −0.284 × 10−4, p: 0.025), and criteria for definition of amblyopia (b: −0.292, p: 0.010) had a significant effect on heterogeneity between studies, while age group, publication date, and cause of amblyopia had no significant effect on heterogeneity. Conclusion: The prevalence of amblyopia varies in different parts of the world, with the highest prevalence in European countries. Geographical location and criteria for definition of amblyopia are among factors contributing to the difference across the world. The results of this study can help stakeholders to design health programs, especially health interventions and amblyopia screening programs.