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Current estimates of blindness in India
  1. G Venkata S Murthy1,
  2. S K Gupta1,
  3. D Bachani2,
  4. R Jose2,
  5. N John1
  1. 1Community Ophthalmology, RP Centre for Ophthalmic Sciences, All India Institute for Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India
  2. 2Ophthalmology Section, Directorate General Health Services, Ministry Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, New Delhi, India
  1. Correspondence to: Dr Gudlavalletti Venkata Satyanarayana Murthy Community Ophthalmology, Room 787, 7th floor, Dr RP Centre for Ophthalmic Sciences, AIIMS, Ansari Nagar, New Delhi, India - 110029;


Background: Evidence based planning has been the hallmark of the blindness control programme in India. A nationwide survey was undertaken in 1999–2001 to document the magnitude and causes of blindness.

Methods: One district each in 15 populous states was covered. 25 clusters were randomly selected in each district and all individuals aged 50 years and above were enumerated. Presenting and best corrected vision was recorded using retroilluminated logMAR tumbling E charts and detailed eye examination was offered.

Results: The response rate was 89.3%. Presenting vision <6/60, in the better eye, was observed in 8.5% (95% CI: 8.1 to 8.9). Age, sex, residence, literacy, and working status were associated with blindness. The highest risk was among those aged 70+ and the illiterate. Cataract was responsible for 62.4% of bilateral blindness. Prevalence of cataract blindness was 5.3% (95% CI: 4.97 to 5.62). Reduction in blindness prevalence among people aged 50 years and above was observed compared to earlier studies.

Conclusion: Blindness control efforts seem to have played a part in arresting the increasing prevalence of blindness in India and there is hope that the goals of the “Vision 2020—right to sight” initiative can be achieved if there is strong political will and prioritised action.

  • blindness
  • India

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  • Series editors: W V Good and S Ruit

  • Competing interests: none declared.

  • The Government of India obtained ethical clearance for the study from the Indian Council of Medical Research, New Delhi.

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