‘Cataract major cause of blindness above 50’

Financial constraints are one of the barriers to accessing treatment, says survey.

October 15, 2019 05:31 am | Updated 05:31 am IST - New Delhi

Treatment available: Close to 93% of cases of blindness in this age group were avoidable.

Treatment available: Close to 93% of cases of blindness in this age group were avoidable.

Cataract is the principal cause of blindness for people above 50 years in India, according to the National Blindness and Visual Impairment Survey of India (2015-19), adding that barriers to accessing treatment include the following — no one to accompany [the patient], seasonal preferences, and financial constraints.

Among men, the most important barriers are financial constraints (31%) and local reasons (21.5%).

Among women, local reasons (23.1%) and financial constraints (21.2%) were the most important barriers.

Cataract is the cause for 66.2% cases of blindness, 80.7% cases of severe visual impairment, and 70.2% cases of moderate visual impairment in the age group.

Also, blindness is more pronounced among illiterate (3.23%) than literates (0.43%) and more prevalent in the rural population (2.14%) than urban (1.80%).

Cases are avoidable

What makes this worse for India is the fact that approximately 93% of cases of blindness and 96.2% visual impairment cases in this age group were avoidable.

Of all the avoidable causes, more than half were treatable, found the survey.

The survey was conducted by Dr. Rajendra Prasad Centre for Opthalmic Sciences, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, for Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

The survey was conducted in 31 districts of 24 States in the country.

“Financial constraint was found to be the biggest barrier in accessing a cataract surgery with this being a reason for 22.1% blindness cases and lack of awareness was behind 18.4% cases, who did not feel any need of the surgery,” the survey noted.

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