Review Article

Amblyopia prevalence in Europe

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1Fielmann Academy Plön Castle


The aim of the present study is to estimate the prevalence of amblyopia in Europe. Amblyopia is one of the most common causes of visual impairment, especially in children. It is defined as any unilateral or bilateral decrease in the visual acuity in the absence of structural and pathologic disorders of the eye. Amblyopia is due to insufficient development of the visual system in early childhood. If amblyopia is not detected and treated in time, the visual acuity reduction will persist for life.

Material and Methods:

An extensive literature review was conducted using the PubMed database using search combinations of “amblyopia”, “amblyopia prevalence”, “amblyopia screening” and “amblyopia therapy”. European studies on amblyopia prevalence and meta-analyses were included. The results on amblyopia prevalence are summarized. The German vision screening program is presented in detail and compared with other European programs.


Studies on amblyopia prevalence showed high heterogeneity. Meta-analyses revealed pool prevalences of 2.7 to 3.7 percent. Anisometropia was the most common cause of amblyopia. For Germany, the prevalence in adults was estimated at 5.6 percent, which is a high rate compared with other European countries. Data from a German child cohort showed a prevalence of 1.5 percent. This estimate is consistent with prevalence rates in other European countries.


Amblyopia prevalence in Germany appears to be lower in children than in adults. However, studies on amblyopia prevalence are difficult to compare with each other. This is partly due to the use of different amblyopia definitions. In addition, there are still no uniform European standards for amblyopia screening.

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