Profile and Causes of Low Vision and Blindness in Children from Two Schools for the Blind in Tamil Nadu, Southern India NC05-NC07
Dr. Deepa John,
Associate Professor, Department of Ophthalmology, Schell Eye Hospital, Arni Road, Christian Medical College,
Vellore-632001, Tamil Nadu, India.
Introduction: World Health Organisation’s (WHO) “Vision 2020” right to sight programme gives high priority towards control of Child Hood Blindness (CHB). Blind school screening provides data on the causes of CHB to focus on health care programmes towards prevention of CHB.
Aim: To determine the causes of CHB seen in local schools for the blind, to compare these with reports from India and focus on changes in the causes of CHB over the years.
Materials and Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted in two schools for the blind in Tamil Nadu, India. Children less than 18 years were included. Best Corrected Visual Acuity (BCVA), anterior segment and dilated fundus examination was done for all children. Information was gathered as per WHO prevention of blindness (WHO/PBL) form.
Results: BCVA in the better eye was 6/24 to 3/60 in 31 children (16.8%), <3/60 to no perception of light in 154 children (83.2%). The causes of blindness based on anatomical site were retina 77(41.5%), whole globe 59(32%), cornea 14(7.5%), optic nerve 14(7.5%), lens 10(5.7%), refractive error in 7(3.8%) and uvea in 4(2%). Hence, 14(7.5%) of the causes were preventable and 21(11.4%) were treatable; thus 35(18.9%) were avoidable causes of blindness.
Conclusion: Retinal dystrophies were the major cause of CHB in our study. Posterior segment anomalies contributed to 50% of the causes for CHB. Our study showed that one-fifth of children had avoidable blindness. Regular screening in well baby clinics, schools and in the community is needed for early identification of avoidable blindness in children.