BACKGROUND A national eye care programme was launched in Nepal in the early 1980s. The impact of this programme on blindness and cataract surgery prevalence was evaluated in two geographic zones.
METHODS People aged 45 years and older were sampled using a stratified cluster design. Within randomly selected clusters, door to door enumeration was followed by visual acuity measurement and eye examinations at conveniently located sites. The full survey was preceded by a pilot study where operational methods were refined and quality assurance measures carried out.
RESULTS Of the 5112 enumerated individuals 90% were examined. Blindness, defined as presenting visual acuity less than 6/60 in both eyes, was found in 5.3% (95% CI 3.6, 6.8) of individuals examined, with cataract being the principal cause in at least one eye in 78% of cases. Considering both cataract operated and unoperated cataract blind cases, surgical coverage was approximately 42%.
CONCLUSION The findings suggest that blindness prevalence may have decreased slightly from that estimated in a 1981 national survey, both overall and cataract related. Similarly, cataract surgical coverage may have increased somewhat. None of these changes, however, are at statistically significant levels. Accordingly, the blindness problem remains challengingly high.
- blindness prevalence
- cataract blindness
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