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COMMUNITY OPHTHALMOLOGY
Year : 2012  |  Volume : 60  |  Issue : 5  |  Page : 451-455

Eye conditions and blindness in children: Priorities for research, programs, and policy with a focus on childhood cataract


1 International Centre for Eye Health, Department of Clinical Research, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Medical Advisor, Sightsavers, UK
2 International Centre for Eye Health, Department of Clinical Research, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Medical Advisor, Sightsavers, UK; Department of Public Health and Life Sciences, University of South Asia, Dhaka, Bangladesh and Child Sight Foundation (CSF), Dhaka, Bangladesh

Correspondence Address:
Clare Gilbert
International Centre for Eye Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Keppel Street, London WC1E 7HT, UK

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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0301-4738.100548

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The major causes of blindness in children encompass intrauterine and acquired infectious diseases, teratogens and developmental and molecular genetics, nutritional factors, the consequences of preterm birth, and tumors. A multidisciplinary approach is therefore needed. In terms of the major avoidable causes (i.e., those that can be prevented or treated) the available evidence shows that these vary in importance from country to country, as well as over time. This is because the underlying causes closely reflect socioeconomic development and the social determinants of health, as well as the provision of preventive and therapeutic programs and services from the community through to tertiary levels of care. The control of blindness in children therefore requires not only strategies that reflect the local epidemiology and the needs and priorities of communities, but also a well functioning, accessible health system which operates within an enabling and conducive policy environment. In this article we use cataract in children as an example and make the case for health financing systems that do not lead to 'catastrophic health expenditure' for affected families, and the integration of eye health for children into those elements of the health system that work closely with mothers and their children.


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