Changing pattern of childhood blindness

Ir Med J. 2007 May;100(5):458-61.


All children under the age of 16 who fulfilled the criteria of blindness and low vision as defined by WHO were included in the study. These children were recruited from 1990 to 2004 from all the Ophthalmology Departments of Ireland, National Council of Blind and Visually impaired. Data was collected from history, detailed ocular examination and investigations including CT, MRI, ultrasound and chromosomal analysis. The prevalence of blindness in 2004 was 0.05% compared to 0.02% in 1989. The aetiologies were divided in (1) genetic, (2) prenatal, (3) perinatal, (4) childhood categories. The genetic group was 33% of the total, (15.63%) had albinism (11%) had retinal dystrophies. The perinatal group of 27% optic nerve hypoplasia, structural anomalies like microphthalmos, anophthalmos comprised of 15.85% and cataract (5.47%). The perinatal group was 26%, cortical blindness (17.45%), ROP (5.5%) and the childhood group comprised of 12.4% of the total. The overall prevalence of childhood blindness and low vision was shown to have increased compared to 1989. The most significant observation was the decrease in childhood blindness due to ROP, owing to the early diagnosis and treatment and an increase in brain blindness due to cortical disease and disability. This has been shown in other studies and is due to increased survival of preterm neonate.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Blindness / diagnosis
  • Blindness / epidemiology*
  • Blindness / etiology
  • Child
  • Child Welfare*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Ireland / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Retrospective Studies