'Develop eye care centres to curb blindness'

 “There are 12,000 ophthalmologists in the country. However, only 50 per cent of them are surgically active. It is estimated that there will be a requirement of 25,000 ophthalmologists by 2020,” said Dr R Sandhya, Professor of Ophthalmology, M S Ramaiah Hospital, during a seminar on ‘World Sight Day’ organised by the Minto Ophthalmic Hospital here on Thursday.

Giving a break-up on the causes of blindness in India, Dr Sandhya said while 60 per cent were cataract cases, the rest were due to trachoma, vitamin ‘A’ deficiency, diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration (age-related eye problems).

WHO estimate

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the projected blindness by 2020 is estimated to be 76 million. Interestingly, she revealed that the latest report of Vision 2020’s Indian unit stated that the prevalence of blindness was 9.2 per cent in women and 6.6 per cent in men.

The hospital’s Medical Superintendent, Dr K S Sriprakash said the 11th five year plan had identified diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration as the growing concerns in the coming years. One-third to one-fifth of the diabetic population was at the risk of contracting diabetic retinopathy. Hence, Vision 2020, which aims at curbing blindness by working with the Government, has suggested creating regional, national and district eye care facilities. “By enforcing this strategy, the projected blindness for 2020 will be come down to 24 million,” said Dr Sandhya.

Speaking about the national programme, Dr Mala said the current 11th five year plan aims that performing three crore cataract operations with above 95 per cent Intraocular Lens (IOL).

“In the State, the highest number of cataract surgeries were performed in Dharwad, while Kodugu indicated the least,” she added.

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