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Purpose: To estimate the prevalence of cataract, glaucoma, age-related maculopathy (ARM) and diabetic retinopathy (DR) in the adult Finnish population.

Methods: A representative cross-sectional sample of the Finnish population aged 30 years and older. Of the 7979 eligible people, 7413 (93%) were interviewed and/or examined. The interview included self-reported doctor-made diagnoses of cataract, glaucoma, degenerative fundus changes (mainly ARM) or DR. Information on self-reported eye diseases was complemented with data from national registers, and case records were gathered for non-participants and persons with visual acuity (VA) < 0.5 or reporting difficulties in vision or eye diseases without assessed VA.

Results: Based on self-reported and/or register-based data the estimated total prevalences of cataract, glaucoma, ARM and DR in the study population were 10%, 5%, 4% and 1%, respectively. All these chronic eye diseases increased with age (p < 0.001). The corresponding prevalences for persons aged 65 and older were 34%, 13%, 12% and 2%, respectively. Cataract and glaucoma were more common in women than in men [odds ratio (OR) 1.55, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.26-1.91; OR 1.57, 95% CI 1.24-1.98, respectively]. The most prevalent eye diseases in people with visual impairment (VA <= 0.25) were ARM (37%), unoperated cataract (27%), glaucoma (22%) and DR (7%).

Conclusion: The high prevalence of these mainly age-related eye diseases, together with increasing life expectancy, mean that continuous efforts are needed to identify and treat eye diseases in order to maintain patients' quality of life and to alleviate the social and economic burden of serious eye diseases.

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