|Snellen chart used to determine visual acuity|
|Causes||Genetic disorder, Infection|
|Diagnostic method||Pupillary reflex(among others)|
|Prevention||Vitamin A supplement|
Childhood blindness is an important cause contributing to the burden of blindness. Blindness in children can be defined as a visual acuity of <3/60 in the eye with better vision of a child under 16 years of age. This generally means that the child cannot see something three feet (about one meter) away, that another child could see if it was 60 feet (about 20 meters) away.
There are many causes of blindness in children. Blindness may be due to genetic mutations, birth defects, premature birth, nutritional deficiencies, infections, injuries, and other causes. Severe retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), cataracts and refractive error are also causes.
Childhood blindness has many causes, and each cause has its own method of damaging the eyes. Leber congenital amaurosis primarily affects the retina, typically severe visual impairment begins in infancy. Mutations in Aryl hydrocarbon receptor interacting protein like-1 have been linked to Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA).
The diagnosis of childhood blindness is done via methods to ascertain the degree of visual impairment in the affected child doing so via dilating eye drops and the proceeding eye exam.
Vitamin A supplementation plays an important role, specifically vitamin A deficiency is a top causes of preventable childhood blindness. Though in measles cases, the administration of the vitamin to offset visual impairment has not been proven effective, as of yet.
Whether blindness is treatable depends upon the cause. Surgical intervention can be performed in PCG which is childhood glaucoma, usually starting early in childhood. Primary congenital glaucoma is caused by an abnormal drainage of the eye. However, surgical intervention is yet to prove effective.
Braille is a universal way to learn how to read and write, for the blind. A refreshable braille display is an assistive learning device that can help such children in school. Schools for the blind are a form of management, however the limitations of using studies done in such schools has been recognized. Children that are enrolled presently, usually, had developed blindness 5 or more years prior to enrollment, consequently not reflecting current possible causes. About 66% of children with visual impairment also have one other disability (comorbidity), be it, intellectual disabilities, cerebral palsy, or hearing loss. Eye care/screening for children within primary health care is important as catching ocular disease issues can lead to better outcomes.
The number of children who suffer from blindness worldwide is approximately 1.4 million. 75% of the world’s blind children live in Africa and Asia. A 2014 review indicated that an estimated of 238,500 children with bilateral blindness (rate 1.2/1,000) in the Eastern Mediterranean region.
Society and culture
VISION 2020 is a program launched by the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) and is supported by the WHO in 1999 that has made controlling blindness in children a high priority.
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