Refractive error blindness

Bull World Health Organ. 2001;79(3):237-43. Epub 2003 Jul 7.


Recent data suggest that a large number of people are blind in different parts of the world due to high refractive error because they are not using appropriate refractive correction. Refractive error as a cause of blindness has been recognized only recently with the increasing use of presenting visual acuity for defining blindness. In addition to blindness due to naturally occurring high refractive error, inadequate refractive correction of aphakia after cataract surgery is also a significant cause of blindness in developing countries. Blindness due to refractive error in any population suggests that eye care services in general in that population are inadequate since treatment of refractive error is perhaps the simplest and most effective form of eye care. Strategies such as vision screening programmes need to be implemented on a large scale to detect individuals suffering from refractive error blindness. Sufficient numbers of personnel to perform reasonable quality refraction need to be trained in developing countries. Also adequate infrastructure has to be developed in underserved areas of the world to facilitate the logistics of providing affordable reasonable-quality spectacles to individuals suffering from refractive error blindness. Long-term success in reducing refractive error blindness worldwide will require attention to these issues within the context of comprehensive approaches to reduce all causes of avoidable blindness.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amblyopia / etiology
  • Blindness / etiology*
  • Eyeglasses
  • Global Health
  • Humans
  • Refractive Errors / complications*
  • Refractive Errors / therapy