More than 92.9% cases of blindness in Indians, over 50 years, can be prevented

The IAPB data shows ‘more than doubling’ of near vision loss cases from the year 1990 to 2020

Image for representational purpose only!
New Delhi: World Sight Day is observed each year to focus attention on vision impairment and blindness. On this occasion, the new data from the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) indicate that in India, cases of moderate and severe visual impairment have almost doubled from 40.6 million in 1990 to 79 million in 2020, and cases of near vision loss have more than doubled from 57.7 million to 137.6 million during the same time period.
In India, about 92.9% of cases of blindness amongst people over the age of 50 years can be avoided, according to the National Blindness & Visual Impairment Survey1 2015-2019. This stresses the need for regular check-ups and early detection of vision impairing conditions especially amongst the vulnerable like young school-going children, women, the elderly, those with diabetes and people with family history of glaucoma
Some important facts about visual impairment/blindness in India
  • Blindness in India affects 1 in approximately 300 people (0.36%) with 1 person in 50 above the age of 50 yrs (1.99%)
  • Visual Impairment in India affects 1 in approximately 40 people (2.55%) with 1 person in 7 above the age of 50 yrs (13.76%)
  • Top 5 Causes of Blindness that contribute to ~ 92.2% cases of blindness in age ≥ 50 Years are untreated cataract, non – trachomatous corneal opacity, cataract surgery complications, other posterior segment disorders, glaucoma
  • ~1 in 6 diabetic patients suffer from Retinopathy
  • Approximately 18.6% of children suffer with severe visual impairment/ blindness due to Vitamin A Deficiency
  • ~ 20,000 new cases of visual impairment/blindness get added every year, 1.2 Lakh corneally blind people require cornea for transplantation to get back their vision, majority of them are young
 Speaking on World Sight Day, Suresh Pattathil, Managing Director, Allergan India, said, “Vision loss effects both the health and wellbeing of a person. 75% of vision loss can be cured or prevented. According to several ophthalmologists, the Covid-19 pandemic has led to patients skipping their regular eye check-up, this has led to a worsening of vision impairment in some cases. On this World Sight Day, we urge everyone to ‘prevent the preventable’ and protect their eyesight. Consider an eye check-up as important as a body check-up, especially if you knowingly or unknowingly have a condition that could lead to vision loss.”
Peter Holland, CEO, IAPB said: “Our world is facing unprecedented challenges this year, but the demand for eye health does not stop. World Sight Day offers us a time to celebrate the promise and hope in sight. New data is showing us the magnitude of eye care need; we must work together to ensure eye health is available to all who need it.”
Earlier this year, Allergan, the IAPB and international NGO Sightsavers launched the “Keep Sight” initiative to create awareness and screen people for glaucoma in Ganjam district in Odisha. This is a community-based glaucoma screening program to identify glaucoma-related vision loss amongst people in the community. The program also trains healthcare professionals to screen people at a high risk and provide the necessary treatment and eye care. So far, over 13,500 people have been screened for glaucoma and more than 1273 referred to a hospital for treatment.