National Blindness & Visual Impairment Survey (2015-19)

Context: The National Blindness & Visual Impairment Survey India 2015-2019, released by the Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, notes that the Diabetic Retinopathy is responsible for 0.8% of visual impairment in the surveyed population in India. 

National Blindness and Visual Impairment Survey 2015-19

The survey was primarily conducted by Dr. Rajendra Prasad Centre for Opthalmic Sciences, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, for Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in 31 districts of 24 States. Rapid Assessment Avoidable of Blindness (RAAB-6) methodology which is a widely accepted method which is being used worldwide to detect the prevalence of blindness in people above 50 years of age, was used to conduct the survey.  Key Findings of the Survey

  • The prevalence of blindness is lowest in Thrissur district of Kerala (1.08%) while that of visual impairment is lowest in Thoubal in Manipur (7.3%). 
  • Bijnor in Uttar Pradesh has the highest prevalence in both categories, at 3.67% and 21.82 %, respectively.
  • In terms of low prevalence of blindness, Thrissur is followed by North GoaKhera (Punjab) and Virudhunagar (Tamil Nadu).
  • Those who are at least  80 years old are reported to be highest in the order of prevalence of blindness at 11.6%. 
  • An untreated cataract is the main cause of blindness, at 66.2%. and also the foremost cause of severe visual impairment, at 80.7% of all cases.
  • Some of the other causes of blindness includes Corneal opacity, cataract surgical complications and some posterior segment disorders.  

  • As per the survey, the prevalence of blindness has reduced by 47.1% compared to the baseline levels of 2010.
  • The survey randomly identified 31 districts with a sample size of about 93,000, among whom 18,000 were less than 50 years of age.
  • The survey also pointed out a number of barriers to access of treatment which includes no one to accompany [the patient], seasonal preferences, and financial constraints. Among the males, the most important barriers are financial constraints (31%) and local reasons (21.5%) while for the females, the local reasons (23.1%) and financial constraints (21.2%) were the most important barriers.

Major Causes of blindness includes Cataract (62.6%), Refractive Error (19.70%), Corneal Blindness (0.90%), Glaucoma (5.80%), Surgical Complication (1.20%), Posterior Capsular Opacification (0.90%), Posterior Segment Disorder (4.70%), and Others (4.19%).

About National Programme for Control of Blindness and Visual Impairment (NPCB&VI) National Programme for Control of Blindness and Visual Impairment (NPCB&VI) was launched in the year 1976 as a 100% centrally sponsored scheme (now 60:40 in all states and  90:10 in NE States) with the goal of reducing the prevalence of blindness to 0.3% by 2020. Rapid Survey on Avoidable Blindness conducted under NPCB during 2006-07 showed reduction in the prevalence of blindness from 1.1% (2001-02) to 1% (2006-07).

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