ISLAMABAD: The prevalence of visual impairment amongst people aged 50 and above in Pakistan has reduced remarkably as fresh data show this ratio has come down to only two per cent against seven per cent recorded in 2004, according to the third national survey of blindness conducted by the Federal Ministry of Health.
“About 44,800 individuals aged 50 and above were included in the survey conducted in 16 different districts (2,800 individuals from each district) randomly selected from all provinces and Azad Jammu and Kashmir. The age and sex adjusted prevalence of blindness was 2.02 per cent with higher prevalence amongst females as compared to males i.e. 2.07 and 1.98 respectively,” disclosed Prof. Asad Aslam Khan, National Coordinator Prevention of Blindness Programme Pakistan, and Chairman National Committee for Eye Health, at a ceremony held in Islamabad on Tuesday.
He said the objective of the survey was to estimate the prevalence of blindness and vision impairment amongst people 50 and above and to identify major causes of visual impairment in this population as 80 per cent of all blindness occurs amongst people aged 50 and above.
According to the survey, there are 9,028,073 people in Pakistan who have any degree of vision impairment from mild to blind. Out of these 484,027 are blind as against the 1.5 million blind as per the 2004 survey. The blindness due to cataract is reduced from 55pc of the total blindness to 49pc.
Dr Shazia Somroo, Parliamentary Secretary Health, and Dr Shabana Saleem, Director General Ministry of Health, amongst representatives of NGOs, INGOs and other stakeholders were present at the ceremony.
Prof Asad Aslam, who is also Professor Emeritus, College of Ophthalmology and Allied Vision Sciences, said that the survey had linked blindness to untreated contract (49 per cent), glaucoma, corneal opacity, uncorrected Aphakia, Macular Degeneration and Diabetic retinopathy while the main cause of vision impairment was refractive error (11.9%).
Based on the results of the 2nd survey 2004, the National Committee for Eye Health (NCEH, Federal Health Ministry, prepared and executed two five-year National Plans for prevention of blindness in collaboration with INGOs.