A survey of visual impairment and blindness in children attending seven schools for the blind in Myanmar

Ophthalmic Epidemiol. 2009 Nov-Dec;16(6):370-7. doi: 10.3109/09286580903312269.


Purpose: To determine the causes of visual impairment and blindness amongst children in schools for the blind in Myanmar; to identify the avoidable causes of visual impairment and blindness; and to provide spectacles, low vision aids, orientation and mobility training and ophthalmic treatment where indicated.

Methods: Two hundred and eight children under 16 years of age from all 7 schools for the blind in Myanmar were examined and the data entered into the World Health Organization Prevention of Blindness Examination Record for Childhood Blindness (WHO/PBL ERCB).

Results: One hundred and ninety nine children (95.7%) were blind (BL = Visual Acuity [VA] < 3/60 in the better eye) and 3 had severe visual impairment (SVI = VA < 6/60 to 3/60 in the better eye). Most children had corneal abnormalities as the major anatomical site of SVI/BL (100, 49.5%), however the cause of SVI/BL was unknown in the majority (88, 43.6%). Measles keratitis was the commonest identifiable cause (17.4%) and 88 children had avoidable causes of SVI/BL (43.6%). Nearly 16% of children required an optical device and 24.2% required medical attention, with a potential for visual improvement through intervention in 15.8%.

Conclusion: Nearly half of the children in schools for the blind in Myanmar had potentially avoidable causes of SVI/BL. With measles being both the commonest identifiable and commonest avoidable cause, the data supports the need for a measles immunization campaign. There is also a need for a dedicated pediatric eye care center with regular ophthalmology visits to the schools, and improved optometric, low vision and orientation and mobility services in Myanmar.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Blindness / epidemiology*
  • Blindness / etiology
  • Blindness / therapy
  • Child
  • Education, Special / statistics & numerical data*
  • Eyeglasses
  • Female
  • Health Surveys*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Myanmar / epidemiology
  • Schools / statistics & numerical data*
  • Sensory Aids
  • Vision, Low / epidemiology*
  • Vision, Low / etiology
  • Vision, Low / therapy
  • Visual Acuity
  • Visually Impaired Persons / statistics & numerical data*