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PLOS ONE  2008 

Rapid Assessment of Avoidable Blindness in India

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0002867

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Abstract:

Background Rapid assessment of avoidable blindness provides valid estimates in a short period of time to assess the magnitude and causes of avoidable blindness. The study determined magnitude and causes of avoidable blindness in India in 2007 among the 50+ population. Methods and Findings Sixteen randomly selected districts where blindness surveys were undertaken 7 to 10 years earlier were identified for a follow up survey. Stratified cluster sampling was used and 25 clusters (20 rural and 5 urban) were randomly picked in each district.. After a random start, 100 individuals aged 50+ were enumerated and examined sequentially in each cluster. All those with presenting vision <6/18 were dilated and examined by an ophthalmologist. 42722 individuals aged > = 50 years were enumerated, and 94.7% examined. Based on presenting vision,, 4.4% (95% Confidence Interval[CI]: 4.1,4.8) were severely visually impaired (vision<6/60 to 3/60 in the better eye) and 3.6% (95% CI: 3.3,3.9) were blind (vision<3/60 in the better eye). Prevalence of low vision (<6/18 to 6/60 in the better eye) was 16.8% (95% CI: 16.0,17.5). Prevalence of blindness and severe visual impairment (<6/60 in the better eye) was higher among rural residents (8.2%; 95% CI: 7.9,8.6) compared to urban (7.1%; 95% CI: 5.0, 9.2), among females (9.2%; 95% CI: 8.6,9.8) compared to males (6.5%; 95% CI: 6.0,7.1) and people above 70 years (20.6%; 95% CI: 19.1,22.0) compared to people aged 50–54 years (1.3%; 95% CI: 1.1,1.6). Of all blindness, 88.2% was avoidable. of which 81.9% was due to cataract and 7.1% to uncorrected refractive errors/uncorrected aphakia. Conclusions Cataract and refractive errors are major causes of blindness and low vision and control strategies should prioritize them. Most blindness and low vision burden is avoidable.

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