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BLINDNESS

Eusebio C, Kuper H, Polack S, Enconado J, Tongson N, Dionio D, Dumdum A, Limburg H, Foster A. Rapid assessment of avoidable blindness in Negros Island and Antique District, Philippines. British Journal of Ophthalmology 91(12),1588-92, 2007.

OBJECTIVES: To conduct rapid assessments of avoidable blindness to estimate the magnitude and causes of blindness in people aged >/=50 years in Negros Island and Antique district, Philippines. METHODS: Clusters of 50 people aged >/=50 years were sampled with probability proportionate to size. Households within clusters were selected through compact segment sampling. Visual acuity (VA) was measured with a tumbling "E" chart. Ophthalmologists examined people with VA<6/18 in either eye. RESULTS: In Negros, 2774 of 3649 enumerated subjects were examined (76.0%) and 3177 of 3842 enumerated subjects in Antique (82.7%). The prevalence of blindness (presenting VA<3/60 in better eye) was 2.6% (95% CI = 2.0 to 3.2%) in Negros and 3.0% (2.4 to 3.6%) in Antique. The leading cause of blindness was untreated cataract, and was refractive error for visual impairment (VA<6/18 to >/=6/60). Most of the cases of blindness (67% in Negros, 82% in Antique) and visual impairment (94% in Negros, 95% in Antique) were avoidable (ie, operated and unoperated cataract, refractive error and corneal scar). In Negros, 23% of eyes had a poor outcome after cataract surgery, and 13% in Antique. CONCLUSIONS: The prevalence of blindness in two areas in the Philippines was relatively low. Since most cases were avoidable, further reductions are possible.

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