Indian Journal of Ophthalmology

: 1965  |  Volume : 13  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 123--126

Glaucomatous blindness in India

BR Shukla, SD Vijay 
 Institute of Ophthalmology and Gandhi Eye Hospital, Aligarh, India

Correspondence Address:
B R Shukla
Institute of Ophthalmology and Gandhi Eye Hospital, Aligarh

How to cite this article:
Shukla B R, Vijay S D. Glaucomatous blindness in India.Indian J Ophthalmol 1965;13:123-126

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Shukla B R, Vijay S D. Glaucomatous blindness in India. Indian J Ophthalmol [serial online] 1965 [cited 2021 Jan 26 ];13:123-126
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Although the exact figure of total blind population of the world is not known, the number certainly exceeds ten millions, and in the opinion of some it is likely to exceed fifteen milions (Wilson, 1962). The exis­tence of so variable a range in the estimates of the blind exposes the inaccuracy of our statistics. Inspite of some pitfalls in these estimates, it is an undisputed fact that glaucoma is undoubtedly an important cause of blindness all over the world. Statisti­cally, in our country, glaucoma as a cause of blindness has either been ignored in a survey like Trachoma Control Pilot Project, India (1962) or has been calculated on a very small number of hospital patients (Venka­taswamy and Rajgopalan, 1961).

Cooper (1960) tried to determine the incidence of glaucoma cases in relation to those of cataract and iritis in India by handing out of a question­naire to the different hospitals all over India. The response though poor, indicates its incidence as about equal with that of iritis and about a fourth that of cataract. However it does not indicate the degree of blindness due to glaucoma.

In any case the information ad­vanced under these surveys is indirect and therefore not quite dependable. Therefore, the position regarding the incidence of glaucomatous blindness in India still remains incomplete. The present communication deals with our observations based on a survey of blindness made in the out-patient de­partment of Gandhi Eye Hospital, Aligarh.

Materials and Methods:

Between January 1, 1963, and July, 1963, 13923 patients attending the cut-patient department of Gandhi Eye Hospital, Aligarh, were screened for blindness. The criterion of selec­tion of the blind was a person who was totally blind or whose vision did not improve beyond counting fingers at 3 metres with one or both eves after refractive correction. The particulars and clinical findings of the individual cases were recorded on separate blindness cards. In the cases included here the diagnosis of glaucoma as the cause of blindness was adequately established. The data so obtained were analysed subse­quently.

Incidence of Glaucomatous Blindness:-

Out of a total of 13923 patients examined during the period, 3642 (26.2%) were found to be blind, glau­coma being responsible in 511 (14.0%) cases. The known world figures of blindness due to glaucoma are shown in [Table 1]. It may be worthwhile mentioning that although a comparision of this nature may not be very correct as the sources of the data have not been identical, still these figures could be looked upon indirectly as fairly representative of limited regional incidence.

Maximum incidence of blindness due to glaucoma was recorded between the ages of 41 to 60 years.

The sex distribution of glaucoma­tous blindness revealed that incapa­citation dominates in females. The figures for males and females were found to be 3.04% and 4.84% respec­tively calculated on total attendance. The difference is significant (t = 5.05 for infinite d.f. P Incidence of glaucomatous blind­ness and economic status. Not only glaucomatous blindness, but blind­ness as a whole is wedded with ig­ncrance and poverty to a large ex­tent, 59.49% of the blind belong to this class in the present survey [Table 2].

Glaucoma Blindness and Literacy. This is a corolary of the former for poverty and illiteracy go hand in hand. It is not surprising that analy­sis of the data shows a greater pre­valence of blindness due to glaucoma amongst illiterates as compared to literates and the educated. [Table 3].

The few attempts to make people glaucoma conscious do not reach the mass of our population. Progressive loss of vision and pain are tolerated till they become intolerable and then when they seek medical advice it is invariably too late. The table proves the great value of making people glaucoma-conscious through health- education, broadcasts and newspa­per propaganda.

Glaucomatous blindness and laterality:-

It was depressing to record that 42.07% cases had bilateral loss of vision. In the present survey glau­comatous blindness was relatively more common in the left eye than in the right, amongst the monocular blinds [Table 4].

Occupational incidence:-

The incidence of glaucomatous blindness was higher amongst the farmers (33.86%) as compared to patients having other occupations [Table 5], but such a conclusion is not logical as the hulk of the patients attending our out-patient department belong to the former category.

Blindness due to various types of Glaucomas:-

No gonioscopic classification of the type of glaucoma was attempted in our cases. Instead they were group­ed clinically into primary, secondary and congenital glaucoma. Incidence of various types is show in [Table 6].

Associated diseases with Glaucoma:-

Of interest is the association of other diseases with glaucomatous blindness obtained in this survey. Sometimes it is very difficult or even impossible to evaluate which comes first, or to judge the visual impair­ment on the basis of a single disease. Trachoma in different degrees of severity was seen in the majority of cases; such a finding supports our earlier observations (Nema, Saiduz-zafar, Nath Shukla, 1964) that chronic cases of trachoma with marked conjunctival scarring could be predisposed to glaucoma.

Inference and conclusion:-

Although an increasing interest in the control of trachoma and the sur­gical management of cataract have been shown of late in India, we do not find the requisite awareness in the assessment of glaucoma (in tota­lity) as a blinding cause. There is a definite need for the institution of a detailed comprehensive survey for detecting this ocular disease in the pre-clinical phases in every state of this country. Glaucoma, from any point of view, is a national health problem meriting top consideration of the Government of India which calls-for vital reorientation in our approaches to the problem of glau­coma in India. The purpose of the article is to highlight the importance of glaucoma with a view to promote adequate remedial steps which may he considered under some national scheme.[8]


1Bagchi, S. (1934-35), Calcutta Med. J., 29 : 283.
2Bagchi, S. (1936), Ibid, 30 : 460, 525, 724.
3Cooper, S. N. (1960) Proceed. All-India Ophth. Soc. 19, 142.
4Megaw, Sir J. (1939), In "Blindness in India." Cited by Sorshy in 5.
5Nema, H. V. Saiduzzapar, H., Nath, K. and Shukla, B. R. (1964) Brit. J. Ophthal., 48 : 563.
6Sorshy, A. (1950) The Incidence and causes of blindness (An International Survey) Brit. J. Ophthal, Supplement 1950.
7Venkataswamy, G. & Rajgopalan. A. V. (1961), J. All India Ophthal. Soc. 12: 77.
8Wilson, J. F. (1962), Blind Welfare 4, 5.