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Causes of severe visual impairment and blindness in children attending schools for the visually handicapped in the Czech Republic
  1. I Kocura,
  2. P Kuchynkaa,
  3. S Rodnýa,
  4. D Barákováa,
  5. E C Schwartzb
  1. aCharles University, Prague, Czech Republic, bUniversity College London, Institute of Ophthalmology, London, UK
  1. I Kocur, Charles University, University Eye Clinic, Srobarova 50, 100 34 Prague, Czech Republicivokocur{at}


AIMS To describe the causes of severe visual impairment and blindness in children in schools for the visually handicapped in the Czech Republic in 1998.

METHODS Pupils attending all 10 primary schools for the visually handicapped were examined. A modified WHO/PBL eye examination record for children with blindness and low vision was used.

RESULTS 229 children (146 males and 83 females) aged 6–15 years were included in the study: 47 children had severe visual impairment (20.5%) (visual acuity in their better eye less than 6/60), and 159 were blind (69.5%) (visual acuity in their better eye less than 3/60). Anatomically, the most affected parts of the eye were the retina (124, 54.2%), optic nerve (35, 15.3%), whole globe (25, 10.9%), lens (20, 8.7%), and uvea (12, 5.2%). Aetiologically (timing of insult leading to visual loss), the major cause of visual impairment was retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) (96, 41.9 %), followed by abnormalities of unknown timing of insult (97, 42.4%), and hereditary disease (21, 9.2%). In 90 children (40%), additional disabilities were present: mental disability (36, 16%), physical handicap (16, 7%), and/or a combination of both (19, 8%). It was estimated that 127 children (56%) suffer from visual impairment caused by potentially preventable and/or treatable conditions (for example, ROP, cataract, glaucoma).

CONCLUSIONS Establishing a study group for comprehensive evaluation of causes of visual handicap in children in the Czech Republic, as well as for detailed analysis of present practice of screening for ROP was recommended.

  • visual impairment
  • blindness
  • children
  • Czech Republic

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