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LETTER
Year : 2015  |  Volume : 10  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 206-207

Public health interventions to reduce the prevalence of blindness in developing countries


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

Date of Submission09-Nov-2014
Date of Acceptance29-Jan-2015
Date of Web Publication27-Aug-2015

Correspondence Address:
Saurabh R Shrivastava
3rd Floor, Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Ammapettai, Thiruporur - Guduvancherry Main Road, Sembakkam (Post), Kancheepuram - 603 108, Tamil Nadu
India
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Source of Support: Nil., Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/2008-322X.163784

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How to cite this article:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. Public health interventions to reduce the prevalence of blindness in developing countries. J Ophthalmic Vis Res 2015;10:206-7

How to cite this URL:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. Public health interventions to reduce the prevalence of blindness in developing countries. J Ophthalmic Vis Res [serial online] 2015 [cited 2020 Jan 24];10:206-7. Available from: http://www.jovr.org/text.asp?2015/10/2/206/163784



Sir,

Blindness has been defined as visual acuity of less than 3/60 in Snellen's chart or inability to count fingers in daylight at a distance of three meters.[1] In 2010 alone, 285 million people are found to be visually impaired worldwide, of whom close to 90% were from developing nations.[2],[3] Visual impairment interferes with ordinary life as a disability, adversely affects quality of life, increases susceptibility to injuries or accidents, negatively impacts productivity and national progress, dramatically increases economic and social costs, and burdens the health care system.[2],[4]

The epidemiological distribution of visual impairment is dependent on multiple parameters such as age groups, gender, literacy level, and geopolitical zone.[2],[5] Approximately two-thirds of visually impaired individuals are aged 50 or over, whereas 19 million children under the age of 15 years have impaired vision.[2],[5] Uncorrected refractive errors are the main reason for visual impairment worldwide; however, in middle/low-income countries, the leading cause of blindness is cataract.[6] In addition, conditions such as glaucoma, corneal opacity, childhood blindness, trachoma, and diabetic retinopathy have been identified as significant factors leading to visual impairment.[5],[6] Over three fourth of all visual impairment can be prevented or cured provided appropriate prevention strategies like providing refractive services and cataract surgery.[2],[3]

The number of visually impaired counteract avoidable blindness.visual impairment, integration of eye care services within distinct levels of primary health care, provision of services which are high quality, available and affordable, adoption of appropriate mass media to raise awareness, involvement of stakeholders via school-based education and constructing strong international corporations; however there is no reduction in the blind population because of population growth, increased life expectancy and the untenable feature of public health strategies.[1],[3]

In order to reduce the magnitude of visual impairment worldwide, one of the most crucial elements is to develop a surveillance system so that accurate information regarding the prevalence and causes of visual impairment can be obtained, enabling program managers to prioritize and formulate rational policies to allow judicial utilization of scarce resources, especially in developing countries.[1],[6] On the other hand, to ensure sustainability and provision of effective and easily accessible services, strategies like strengthening existing eye care services and completely integrating them into the health system have been universally recommended. In addition, a target-oriented approach for some major causes of blindness (such as, diabetes mellitus, rubella, or vitamin A deficiency) has been proposed to counter the menace of visual impairment.[6] In order to expand the scope of preventive services, some interventions including the incorporation of visual impairment prevention and rehabilitation agenda into wider health policies and strategies, involvement of multiple stakeholders, and adopting a multi-sectoral approach can be tried upon.[1],[6],[7]

To conclude, the need of the hour is to develop holistic policies, well supported with systematic monitoring and involvement of national and international welfare agencies to counteract avoidable blindness.



 
  References Top

1.
Park K. Non-communicable diseases. In: Park K, editor. Textbook of Preventive and Social Medicine. 20th ed. Jabalpur: Banarsidas Bhanot Publishers; 2009. p. 349-353.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
World Health Organization. Visual Impairment and Blindness – Fact Sheet No 282; 2013. Available from: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs282/en/. [Last accessed on 2014 May 22].  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
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;120:2377-2384.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Frick KD, Foster A. The magnitude and cost of global blindness: An increasing problem that can be alleviated. Am J Ophthalmol 2003;135:471-476.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
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;11:125-130.  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.
World Health Organization. Universal Eye Health: A Global Action Plan 2014-2019. Geneva: WHO Press; 2013.  Back to cited text no. 6
    
7.
World Health Organization. Global data on visual impairments 2010. WHO press: Geneva; 2012.  Back to cited text no. 7
    




 

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