Etiology of childhood blindness in Izmir, Turkey

Eur J Ophthalmol. 2004 Nov-Dec;14(6):531-7. doi: 10.1177/112067210401400613.


Purpose: To identify the anatomic sites and the etiology of childhood blindness and to discern treatable and preventable causes.

Methods: The records of 998 patients seen in the authors' pediatric ophthalmology unit between June 1998 and May 2002 were examined retrospectively. A total of 148 patients who had visual impairment and blindness according to World Health Organization criteria were included in the study. They are classified according to the etiology based on time of insult and the anatomic site of visual loss.

Results: The most common anatomic site of visual loss was retina, with a rate of 25.0%. The etiology according to the time of insult was unknown in 45.2% of the patients, of whom 20.2% had cataract. Genetic disorders were responsible in 25.0% of the patients. In 69.6% of the patients, the causes of visual impairment were considered either preventable or treatable, including cataract, retinopathy of prematurity, genetic disorders, and refractive errors.

Conclusions: A high percentage of our patients had avoidable causes of childhood blindness. Genetic counseling services, as well as national screening programs for amblyopia, red fundus reflex, and retinopathy of prematurity, should be established.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Blindness / epidemiology
  • Blindness / etiology*
  • Blindness / prevention & control
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Eye Diseases / complications*
  • Eye Diseases / epidemiology
  • Eye Diseases / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Turkey / epidemiology
  • Visually Impaired Persons / statistics & numerical data*