WHO has defined blindness as ‘visual acuity of less than 3/60 (Smelled) or its equivalent’. In the absence of visual charts, ‘inability to count fingers in day light at a distance of 3 meters’ is an indication of blindness.
Causes of blindness
1. Cataract which occurs frequently in old age (senile cataract). It is the principal cause of blindness.
2. Trachoma is an important cause. It is gradually brought under control.
3. Malnutrition due to vitamin A deficiency.
4. Injuries from cottage industries like carpentry, stone crushing, blacksmithing etc.
5. Social factors like poverty, superstitions Ana inadequate health services
Prevention and control
1 Minor illness of the eye and also vitamin A deficiency can be treated at the village level by health workers and village guides. They are provided with drugs such as tetracycline ointments and vitamin A capsules.
2. Common blinding conditions such as cataract and glaucoma are managed by Primary health centers and district hospitals. Mobile units in the form eye camps provide excellent service in the form of cataract surgery.
3. Institutes in state capitals and also those attached to Medical colleges provide sophisticated eye care. They provide services such as corneal grafting and retinal detachment surgery.
4. Health education about eye care, importance of taking foods rich in vitamin A etc.
5 Rehabilitation of the blind by providing them suitable employment.
Special and specific programmes
The following are specific programmes operative in India for the control of blindness.
1. Trachoma control programme: It was launched in India in 1963. In the year 1976 it was merged with National
Programme for the control of blindness. The aim of ‘Trachoma control programme’ was early diagnosis and treatment.
2. School eye health services: This programme screens school children for eye diseases. Also it provides health education about eye care.
3. National programme for the control of blindness It was started in 1976 by merging the trachoma control programme. The aims of this programme are:
1. To provide essential eye care.
2. To train adequate number of ophthalmic assistants.
3. To encourage voluntary agencies to organize eye camps, (for cataract surgery)
4. Eye check up and vitamin A prophylaxis in rural areas.