Out of 270 students in 17 blind school institutions in Malawi 73 per cent were blind before the age of three. The most common cause for the blindness was ocular infection (75-2 per cent). Meales, as a single cause, was responsible for 43-7 per cent of the cases and smallpox for 5-2 per cent. Bacterial infections were incriminated in 26-3 per cent of the cases. Most of these had received traditional medicine during the acute phase of the disease. Hereditary factors as causes of blindness were found in 7-8 per cent of the cases. These included congenital cataracts (2-6 per cent), optic atorphy of unknown origin (3-0 per cent), microphthalmos (1-5 per cent), and macular degeneration (0-7 per cent). Careful ophthalmological examination showed that in 37 cases an intervention could be attempted in order to improve the vision. In the 11 most favourable cases this was attempted, with the result that nine cases gained a useful vision of 4/60 to 6/18 in the better eye.
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