Purpose: To summarize the available data on pediatric blinding disease worldwide and to present current information on childhood blindness in the United States.
Methods: A systematic search of world literature published since 1999 was conducted. Data also were solicited from each state school for the blind in the United States.
Results: In developing countries, 7% to 31% of childhood blindness and visual impairment is avoidable, 10% to 58% is treatable, and 3% to 28% is preventable. Corneal opacification is the leading cause of blindness in Africa, but the rate has decreased significantly from 56% in 1999 to 28% in 2012. There is no national registry of the blind in the United States, and most schools for the blind do not maintain data regarding the cause of blindness in their students. From those schools that do have such information, the top three causes are cortical visual impairment, optic nerve hypoplasia, and retinopathy of prematurity, which have not changed in past 10 years.
Conclusions: There are marked regional differences in the causes of blindness in children, apparently based on socioeconomic factors that limit prevention and treatment schemes. In the United States, the 3 leading causes of childhood blindness appear to be cortical visual impairment, optic nerve hypoplasia, and retinopathy of prematurity; a national registry of the blind would allow accumulation of more complete and reliable data for accurate determination of the prevalence of each.
Copyright © 2012 American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus. Published by Mosby, Inc. All rights reserved.