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Problem of visual impairment in children

Problem of visual impairment in children

Iccw News Bulletin 40(2): 19-21

Visual impairment is a global problem which is more pronounced in developing countries. There are an estimated 40-45 million blind in the world today, equivalent to a 1% prevalence of global blindness. More than 80% of global blindness is either preventable or curable by simple techniques, if done in time. Blindness in Southeast Asian countries varies from about .3% in Korea to about 2.0% in bangladesh or Myanmar and 1.5% in India. The causes of visual impairment and blindness include infections such as trachoma, injuries, malnutrition (particularly vitamin A deficiency) and refractive anomalies including muscle imbalance. Nutrition blindness is common in almost all the developing countries, but it is not problem in Sri Lanka, Myanmar, and Korea. Various control and nutritional measures undertaken by national governments have significantly reduced the prevalence of trachoma. It is a serious problem in Bangladesh and some parts of India. While socioeconomic factors contribute to its prevalence, attacks of diarrhea or acute infections add to its gravity. Eye injuries or trauma are common in developing countries. Blindness is not a public health problem alone, but low educational, socioeconomic status, unscientific cultural practices, and poor environmental status play a major role. Health education for eye care in the community and primary intervention can control causes like infections, trauma, or malnutrition, while visual aids such as spectacles have to be used for the correction of refractive anomalies. The problem of visual impairment per se and in children in particular can be overcome with concerted efforts. The countries affected have initiated control efforts to modify people's socioeconomic status. Voluntary organizations collaborating with governments have also produced good results. The education of children about eye health and training of school teachers in early detection of visual problems can be effective.

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Accession: 047080396

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PMID: 12286293

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