Author(s): Dandona L, Dandona R, Srinivas M, Giridhar P, Vilas K,
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Abstract PURPOSE: To determine the current prevalence and causes of blindness in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh to assess if blindness has decreased since the last survey of 1986-1989. METHODS: A population-based epidemiology study, using a stratified, random, cluster, systematic sampling strategy, was conducted in the state of Andhra Pradesh in India. Participants of all ages (n = 10,293), 87.3\% of the 11,786 eligible, from 94 clusters in one urban and three rural areas representative of the population of Andhra Pradesh, underwent interview and a detailed dilated ocular evaluation by trained professionals. Blindness was defined as presenting distance visual acuity < 6/60 or central visual field < 20(o) in the better eye. RESULTS: Two hundred seventy-five participants were blind, a prevalence of 1.84\% (95\% confidence interval, 1.49\%-2.19\%) when adjusted for the age, sex, and urban-rural distribution of the population in 2000. The causes of this blindness were easily treatable in 60.3\% (cataract, 44\%; refractive error, 16.3\%). Preventable corneal disease, glaucoma, complications of cataract surgery, and amblyopia caused another 19\% of the blindness. Blindness was more likely with increasing age and decreasing socioeconomic status, and in female subjects and in rural areas. Among the 76 million population of Andhra Pradesh, 714,400 are estimated to have cataract-related blindness (615,600 cataract, 53,200 cataract surgery-related complications, 45,600 aphakia), and 228,000 refractive error-related blindness (159,600 myopia, 22,800 hyperopia, 45,600 refractive error-related amblyopia). If 95\% of the cataract and refractive error blindness in Andhra Pradesh had been treated effectively, 3.4 and 7.4 million blind-person-years, respectively, could have been prevented. If 90\% of the blindness due to preventable corneal disease and glaucoma had been prevented, another 2.7 million blind-person-years could have been prevented. CONCLUSIONS: The prevalence of blindness in this Indian state has increased from 1.5\% in the late 1980s to 1.84\% currently, as against the target of the National Program for Control of Blindness to reduce the prevalence to 0.3\% by 2000. The number of people with cataract-related blindness has not reduced even with the eye care policy focus on cataract. Reduction of blindness in India will require strategies that are more effective than those that have been pursued so far.
This article was published in Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci
and referenced in Epidemiology: Open Access