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Year : 2014  |  Volume : 6  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 70

Strategies to reduce the magnitude of avoidable blindness in developing nations

Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Ammapettai, India

Date of Web Publication6-Feb-2015

Correspondence Address:
R Shrivastava Saurabh
Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Ammapettai Village, Thiruporur, Guduvancherry Main Road, Sembakkam Post, Kancheepuram - 603108, Tamil Nadu
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DOI: 10.4103/1858-540X.151001

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How to cite this article:
Saurabh R S, Prateek S S, Jegadeesh R. Strategies to reduce the magnitude of avoidable blindness in developing nations. Sudanese J Ophthalmol 2014;6:70

How to cite this URL:
Saurabh R S, Prateek S S, Jegadeesh R. Strategies to reduce the magnitude of avoidable blindness in developing nations. Sudanese J Ophthalmol [serial online] 2014 [cited 2022 Jan 18];6:70. Available from: https://www.sjopthal.net/text.asp?2014/6/2/70/151001


The World Health Organization has defined blindness as a visual acuity of less than 3/60 in Snellen's chart or inability of an individual to count fingers in daylight from 3 m. [1] The available global estimates for the year 2010 suggest that about 285 million people (39 million - blind + 246 million - low vision) are visually impaired worldwide, of which roughly 90% reside in low-income settings. [2],[3] Further, it has been argued that despite a significant reduction in the proportion of visually impaired, because of the launch of national programs and other eye care strategies, the pool of blind population has remained constant (owing to the population expansion, augmented life expectancy, unsustainable health strategies, etc.). [1],[3]

As observed with most of the diseases / conditions, multiple determinants (viz. age-group, gender, education status, geopolitical zone, nutrition profile, accessibility-availability-affordability-quality of eye care, etc.) have been identified in the global distribution of blindness. [2],[4],[5] In-fact, uncorrected refractive errors account for the most predominant etiological causes for the visual impairment globally, while cataract has remained the leading cause of blindness in developing nations for multiple decades. [1],[2],[6] Also, other conditions like trachoma, vitamin-A deficiency, childhood blindness, retinopathy of prematurity, glaucoma, onchocerciasis, diabetic retinopathy, have been recognized as some of the significant causes of avoidable blindness in different settings. [5],[6]

Visual impairment not only results in disability, but even influences the quality of life, increases risk for injuries / accidents, negative impact on a nation's development, rise in direct and indirect medical costs, and even results in the overwhelming of the health system. [2],[4] However, the most shocking fact is that almost 80% of all visual impairment can be avoided by the mere implementation of appropriate preventive and therapeutic strategies based on the prevalent causative factors in heterogeneous settings. [2],[3]

In the global mission to significantly decrease the burden of avoidable blindness, establishment of a surveillance system remains an important link as it allows health professionals to prioritize and then develop evidence-based strategies. [1],[6] In addition, strengthening of the existing eye care services, involvement of multiple stakeholders, and enabling integration of eye care services into the primary health care should be ensured to enable expansion of effective and easily accessible services. [1],[6],[7] Furthermore, target-oriented approach for variable causes of avoidable blindness (viz. diabetes mellitus, smoking, rubella, vitamin A deficiency, etc.) has also been proposed to tackle the menace of avoidable blindness. [7]

In conclusion, in order to successfully reduce the magnitude of avoidable blindness, there is an indispensable need to strengthen primary health care and ensure integration of eye care services at different levels of health care.

  References Top

Park K, editor. Non-communicable diseases. In: Textbook of Preventive and Social Medicine. 20 th ed. Jabalpur: Banarsidas Bhanot Publishers; 2009. p. 349-53.  Back to cited text no. 1
World Health Organization. Visual impairment and blindness-Fact Sheet N 282; 2014. Available from: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs282/en/ [Last accessed on 2014 Dec 05].  Back to cited text no. 2
Stevens GA, White RA, Flaxman SR, Price H, Jonas JB, Keeffe J, et al. Global prevalence of vision impairment and blindness: Magnitude and temporal trends, 1990-2010. Ophthalmology 2013;120:2377-84.  Back to cited text no. 3
Frick KD, Foster A. The magnitude and cost of global blindness: An increasing problem that can be alleviated. Am J Ophthalmol 2003;135:471-6.  Back to cited text no. 4
Rabiu MM, Kyari F, Ezelum C, Elhassan E, Sanda S, Murthy GV, et al. Review of the publications of the Nigeria national blindness survey: Methodology, prevalence, causes of blindness and visual impairment and outcome of cataract surgery. Ann Afr Med 2012;11:125-30.  Back to cited text no. 5
[PUBMED]  Medknow Journal  
World Health Organization. Global data on visual impairments 2010. Geneva: WHO Press; 2012.  Back to cited text no. 6
World Health Organization. Universal eye health: A global action plan 2014-2019. Geneva: WHO Press; 2013.  Back to cited text no. 7


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