Childhood Blindness In India – Regional Variations
Background: Childhood blindness (CB) has far reaching implications for the affected child in educational, employment, personal and social aspects. In India, the overall prevalence is estimated to be a dismal 0.8/1000 children, ranging from 0.3% in well-developed states (like Kerela) to 1.5% in the poorer states.
Aim: To identify and compare the aetiology of blindness in children in two geographically different areas of India and to assess the impact of the social and rehabilitative measures available to them.
Materials and Methods: A total of 254 students in three blind schools, each in Delhi and Madurai were examined and the data was analysed.
Results: No difference was noticed in age, gender and in the rehabilitative and social support system, but for increased consanguinity in the south (47%). Causes of blindness were anomalies of the globe (32.8% vs. 30.8%), Retina (20% vs. 24%), lens and cornea (15% each vs. 10% each), optic nerve (7% vs. 15%) and others (10.2%), with significant regional variation among children of similar visual status. The social acceptance of the blind was gratifying. More than 80% of the students were fluent in Braille, extracurricular activities and vocational skills training in both parts of the country.
Conclusion: This study showed significant regional variations in the patterns of childhood blindness in India that may require different strategies to tackle the problems in these areas.