Purpose: To elucidate the aetiology of childhood blindness in the Republic of Uzbekistan and to assess the needs for future provision of ophthalmic services for children.
Methods: Six hundred and seventy-one children in seven schools for the blind and visually impaired throughout Uzbekistan were examined using the WHO/PBL (World Health Organization Prevention Of Blindness) childhood blindness proforma. The locations were chosen to give a representation of the major areas of population within the country.
Results: Of the 671 children examined, 506 (75.4%) were blind or severely visually impaired (corrected visual acuity of less than 6/60 (20/200) in the better eye). Cataract-related blindness (35%), retinal dystrophies (24%) and microphthalmos (23%) formed the three largest diagnostic categories.
Conclusions: The commonest avoidable cause of blindness was found to be cataract; the cause of poor vision may be due to unoperated cataract, aphakia, amblyopia or post-operative capsular fibrosis. The high proportion of retinal dystrophies may be related to the common practice of consanguineous marriage. The frequent finding of microphthalmos is discussed and compared with findings from other surveys. Glaucoma accounted for approximately 5% of the avoidable blindness.