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Hygieia
  1. Glenys Hughes
  1. Glenys Hughes; ghughes{at}bmj.com

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CHILDHOOD BLINDNESS IN INDONESIA

While the prevalence of blindness in children is estimated to range from 1.0–1.5/1000 in developing countries compared with 0.2–0.3/1000 in developed countries, more than half the causes of blindness and severe visual impairment (BL/SVI) may be potentially avoidable, a study has found. A survey of schools for the blind in Java, Indonesia, examined 479 of the 504 students. Data were collected using a modified World Health Organization Prevention of Blindness (WHO/PBL) eye examination record for children. Ninety-five per cent of students were blind and 4.6% were severely visually impaired. The major sites of BL/SVI were whole globe in 35.9% of cases, retina in 18.9%, lens in 16.4% and cornea in 16.1%. The major underlying aetiology of BL/SVI was undetermined in 32.7% cases (mainly microphthalmia, anterior segment dysgenesis, cataract), hereditary factors in 31.9% (mainly retinal dystrophies) and postnatal/childhood disorders in 28.5%. Measles blindness accounted for 23.1% of avoidable causes, while cataract and glaucoma for 15.5% and 8.2%, respectively. Cataract and corneal disorders related to measles or vitamin A deficiency were the major treatable and preventable causes. Childhood factors and corneal disorders have declined over a period of 10–20 …

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