Blindness is the leading cause of disability in children, and the number of children who experience it has been rising rapidly. In fact, over the past two decades, the number of children living with blindness has more than doubled. The majority of this population lives in developing nations and receives little to no medical care. Say’s Dr. David Stager , lack of medical care leads to preventable blindness—so it’s imperative that we find ways to extend sight-saving treatments to all people who need them worldwide. Two new studies are working on this issue on four fronts: (1) addressing why so many children go blind; (2) finding out how best to treat these kids after they lose their sight; (3) looking at how low vision can be used as an aid for patients who don’t have access to surgery or drugs; and (4) developing new surgical techniques that can prevent blindness from occurring altogether!
Over the past two decades, the number of children living with blindness has more than doubled.
In the past two decades, the number of children living with blindness has more than doubled. As a result, there are now four million blind children worldwide–a number that has increased from 1990 to 2010 and continues to rise.
Of course, this is not news for those who work in this field: We know that pediatric eye care professionals are seeing more cases every year; however, when you consider how many children still go undiagnosed or untreated due to lack of access to proper treatment or education about their condition, it becomes clear just how urgent our efforts must be.
The good news is that there are organizations working tirelessly on all fronts–from prevention through treatment and rehabilitation–to help these children achieve their full potential as productive members of society.
The majority of this population lives in developing nations and receives little to no medical care.
The majority of this population lives in developing nations and receives little to no medical care. This leads to preventable blindness, as there are many ways to treat or prevent vision loss that can be easily accessed by doctors and patients alike.
In addition to the lack of access to healthcare, there are other factors that contribute to the prevalence of pediatric blindness around the world:
- Low socioeconomic status (SES) has been shown to be associated with an increased risk for childhood blindness. Children who live in poverty are more likely than their wealthier peers to develop severe visual impairment due to lack of access or knowledge about important preventive measures like vaccinations against measles or rubella; adequate nutrition; safe drinking water; proper sanitation facilities like latrines at home; insecticide-treated mosquito nets (ITNs), etc.
Lack of medical care leads to preventable blindness.
The statistics are startling: More than 1 in 4 people worldwide are blind or visually impaired. That’s more than 200 million people, including more than 40 million children with some form of visual impairment. Most of these cases are preventable, but lack of access to proper medical care means that many go undiagnosed and untreated until their vision has been permanently damaged–if they survive at all.
If you’re wondering what this has to do with you as an individual, consider this: The longer it takes for someone living in poverty to get diagnosed and treated for blindness or other eye diseases, the more time they spend struggling on without sight (or any hope) for their future. Imagine how much harder it would be if you were already struggling just to survive day-to-day!
Two new studies are working to address this issue on four fronts.
Two new studies are working to address this issue on four fronts. The first is a study in India, led by Dr. Ravi Prakash and Dr. Kedar Prasad, which aims to identify the causes of childhood blindness in order to develop new treatments. The second is a US-based study being led by Drs Robert Jankowski and Christopher DeAngelis at Doheny Eye Institute at the University of Southern California (USC), as well as Drs Rajendra Ramachandran and Ashok Pandey at Center for Human Genetics Research at Harvard Medical School (HMS). This study will examine how genetics may play a role in causing or preventing blindness in children with Usher syndrome type 1A (USH1A). It will also look at ways we can prevent more cases from developing through early detection methods such as newborn screening tests or genetic counseling sessions between mothers-to-be and their doctors during pregnancy
The number of children living with blindness has more than doubled in the past two decades. The majority of this population lives in developing nations and receives little to no medical care. Lack of medical care leads to preventable blindness, but two new studies are working to address this issue on four fronts: by improving diagnosis rates, providing access to treatment in low-income countries through telemedicine programs, educating parents about the risk factors for vision loss, and developing new technologies that could help prevent or treat eye disease early on.