|Year : 2016 | Volume
| Issue : 4 | Page : 455-456
Childhood blindness: A priority eye disease
Kavita R Bhatnagar
Department of Ophthalmology, Medical Education Unit, Andaman and Nicobar Islands Institute of Medical Sciences, Port Blair, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India
|Date of Web Publication||12-Jul-2016|
Kavita R Bhatnagar
Department of Ophthalmology, Medical Education Unit, Andaman and Nicobar Islands Institute of Medical Sciences, Port Blair, Andaman and Nicobar Islands
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
|How to cite this article:|
Bhatnagar KR. Childhood blindness: A priority eye disease. Med J DY Patil Univ 2016;9:455-6
Childhood blindness refers to a group of diseases and conditions occurring in childhood or early adolescence (<16 years of age), which, if left untreated, result in blindness or severe visual impairment that are likely to be untreatable later in life. In industrialized countries and countries with rapidly developing economies such as India, blindness is defined as vision <6/60 with best possible correction and corresponding restriction in the field of vision. There are estimated 1.5 million blind children in the world; of them, 1 million live in Asia. Uncorrected refractive error is a major cause of visual disability in children, especially in Asian countries. The World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended a revision of the estimates of blindness to include uncorrected refractive error.
Due to enormous loss of disability-adjusted life years, childhood blindness is estimated to be the second leading cause of the burden due to blindness and has been included in VISION 2020: The right to sight, the WHO initiative to eliminate avoidable blindness by the year 2020. Visual disabilities in children are more complex compared to those in adults. Without visual stimulus, the child's overall development suffers. In addition to the disabled child, his/her family and the society at large are also negatively affected. Therefore, the WHO and its partners in their consorted efforts to eliminate avoidable blindness “VISION 2020” The right to the sight' included childhood blindness also. The global aim is to reduce the prevalence of childhood blindness from 0.75:1000 to 0.4:1000 by the year 2020. India being signatory to the global initiative for the elimination of avoidable blindness: VISION 2020, Government of India is working toward making the society free from all causes of avoidable (preventable plus treatable) blindness.
The authors in this study have tried to identify a range of potential issues relating to parental awareness and perceptions of common eye diseases affecting children. Their findings suggest that refractive errors and strabismus (squint) were top two eye problems detected. Most of the parents were semi-skilled workers with low education and socioeconomic levels who were apprehensive about using spectacles. Therefore, creating awareness among parents and removing myths and misconceptions about treatment options will help in reducing morbidity among children. Counseling by visually challenged and demonstrating their own examples will help parents to understand the situation, agree for timely interventions, cope with the stress, and face newer challenges.
Early detection of blind children at the household and community level is critical in reducing the global burden of visual impairment and childhood blindness. Health education of caregivers including parental education about prevention, early treatment of causes of blindness, and rehabilitation of blind child will go a long way in achieving the global initiatives of prevention of avoidable blindness. “Visual disabilities in children” including the “Childhood Blindness” should be addressed through a comprehensive program approach.
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