BLINDNESS SCENARIO: Global and Bangladesh

The World Health Organization estimates about 314 million people are visually impaired globally of which 45 million are totally blind. Nearly 90% of the visually impaired people live in developing countries like Bangladesh. Experts say that 80% of the blindness can be cured.

Bangladesh has nearly a 750,000 blind people of which 650,000 aged 30 and older are blind due to cataract. Every year 130,000 newly blind people are added. Main causes of blindness are cataract (73.39%), and refractive error (8.87%).

Approximately, 40,000 children are blind – childhood cataract is the leading cause of childhood blindness in Bangladesh. Over 12,000 children are suffering from unnecessary blindness due to un-operated cataract.

Two hundred thousand cataract surgeries are performed annually. There are 900 ophthalmologists in the country. Eighty percent of the visually impaired persons live in rural areas where the treatment facilities are very poor as 90% of the doctors and paramedics are urban-based. The main causes for low cataract surgeries are low public awareness, lack of trained eye personnel, lack of equipped eye facilities and lack of access to eye care services for the economically downtrodden people living in the remote areas.