Magnitude and Temporal Trends in Avoidable Blindness in Children (ABC) in India
The World Health Organization estimates that 19 million children are visually impaired, among whom, 1.4 million are blind. Childhood blindness is an excellent indicator of the state of child health and primary care services in a country. Childhood blindness is important not just due to the number of children blind but also because the number of years that the surviving child has to live with blindness (blind years lived). Childhood blindness is next only to adult cataract in terms of the number of blind person years lived. Under-five mortality rates have been used as a proxy measure to compute the prevalence of childhood blindness in low and middle income countries due to limitations of other methods of data collection. In India, it is estimated that there are 0.8 blind for 1000 children. Whole globe lesions, corneal scarring, retinal pathology and afflictions of the lens are important anatomical sites in children. Causes operating in childhood and hereditary causes are important in etiology of childhood blindness. In 38.2%–68.4% cases across the region, a specific cause of blindness could not be identified in South Asia. The proportion of blindness that can be prevented or treated (avoidable) in children is less than 50%. Therefore a comprehensive eye care system needs to be in place to cater to the needs of children with avoidable and those with incurable blindness. Early detection and prompt management are critical for success of programs targeting avoidable blindness in children.
KeywordsBlindness Childhood India Prevalence Vision disability
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