Mumbai, March 19. (PTI): The prevalence of blindness among children in India is five times higher than that reported in other developing countries, with an estimated 3.2 lakh of them suffering from some form of eye-disease, a study has said. Ironically, in 50 per cent of these cases blindness can either be prevented or treated, according to the study by ORBIS, an international nonprofit organisation striving to eliminate avoidable blindness.
The study said, "Most of the causes of childhood blindness are exacerbated by lack of community awareness and parental neglect".
"Ignorance and harmful traditional practices can unwittingly lead to blindness," it said, adding "Certain States such as Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh are prone to high rates of childhood blindness due to Vitamin A deficiency, cataract and eye-injuries". The study stresses that "In a number of cases, parental intervention can help reduce incidence of eye problems".
Childhood cataract is the most common treatable cause of blindness. Unfortunately it is responsible for 10 to 30 per cent of all childhood blindness because of parental neglect.
"Children with cataract are difficult to identity as they do not recognise the need for intervention," it pointed out. Cataract in children may be congenital or may appear any time during the first few years of childhood. But many parents are not aware that surgery is the only treatment available for childhood cataract and that it should be undertaken, the study suggested.