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PLOS ONE  2012 

A Rapid Assessment of Avoidable Blindness in Southern Zambia

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0038483

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Abstract:

Introduction A rapid assessment of avoidable blindness (RAAB) was conducted in Southern Zambia to establish the prevalence and causes of blindness in order to plan effective services and advocate for support for eye care to achieve the goals of VISION 2020: the right to sight. Methods Cluster randomisation was used to select villages in the survey area. These were further subdivided into segments. One segment was selected randomly and a survey team moved from house to house examining everyone over the age of 50 years. Each individual received a visual acuity assessment and simple ocular examination. Data was recorded on a standard proforma and entered into an established software programme for analysis. Results 2.29% of people over the age of 50 were found to be blind (VA <3/60 in the better eye with available correction). The major cause of blindness was cataract (47.2%) with posterior segment disease being the next main cause (18.8%). 113 eyes had received cataract surgery with 30.1% having a poor outcome (VA <6/60) following surgery. Cataract surgical coverage showed that men (72%) received more surgery than women (65%). Discussion The results from the RAAB survey in Zambia were very similar to the results from a similar survey in Malawi, where the main cause of blindness was cataract but posterior segment disease was also a significant contributor. Blindness in this part of Zambia is mainly avoidable and there is a need for comprehensive eye care services that can address both cataract and posterior segment disease in the population if the aim of VISION 2020 is to be achieved. Services should focus on quality and gender equity of cataract surgery.

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