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Causes of severe visual impairment and blindness in Bangladesh: a study of 1935 children
  1. M A Muhit,
  2. S P Shah,
  3. C E Gilbert,
  4. A Foster
  1. International Centre for Eye Health, Clinical Research Unit, Department of Infectious and Tropical Diseases, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to: Mohammad Muhit Clinical Research Fellow, International Centre for Eye Health, Clinical Research Unit, Department of Infectious and Tropical Diseases, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Keppel Street, London, UK; Mohammad.Muhit{at}Lshtm.ac.uk

Abstract

Objective: To identify the anatomical site and underlying aetiology of severe visual impairment and blindness (SVI/BL) in children in Bangladesh.

Design: A national case series.

Methods: Children were recruited from all 64 districts in Bangladesh through multiple sources. Causes were determined and categorised using standard World Health Organization methods.

Results: 1935 SVI/BL children were recruited. The median age was 132 months, and boys accounted for 63.1% of the sample. The main site of abnormality was lens (32.5%), mainly unoperated cataract, followed by corneal pathology (26.6%) and disorders of the whole eye (13.1%). Lens-related blindness was the leading cause in boys (37.0%) compared with corneal blindness in girls (29.8%). In 593 children, visual loss was due to childhood factors, over 75% being attributed to vitamin A deficiency. Overall 1338 children (69.2%) had avoidable causes. Only 2% of the country’s estimated SVI/BL children have access to education and rehabilitation services.

Conclusions: This is the first large-scale study of SVI/BL children in Bangladesh over two-thirds of whom had avoidable causes. Strategies for control are discussed.

  • BL, blindness
  • CBR, community-based rehabilitation ICU, intensive care unit
  • IQR, interquartile range
  • KI, key informant
  • ROP, retinopathy of prematurity
  • SpEdu, special schools for the blind and integrated schools
  • SVI, severe visual impairment
  • WHO, World Health Organization

Statistics from Altmetric.com

Footnotes

  • Published Online First 12 March 2007

  • Funding organisations for the study: Christoffel Blinden Mission, Muslim Aid, Sightsavers International, Royal College of Surgeons, UK

  • Competing interests: None declared.

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