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Twenty years of childhood blindness: what have we learnt?

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, International Centre for Eye Health
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  • Medicine


Gilbert, C; Muhit, M (2008) Twenty years of childhood blindness: what have we learnt? Community eye health / International Centre for Eye Health, 21 (67). pp. 46-7. ISSN 0953-6833 Downloaded from: Usage Guidelines Please refer to usage guidelines at or alterna- tively contact [email protected] Available under license: Creative Commons Attribution 46 Over the last 20 years, much has been achieved in controlling blindness in children. Prior to the launch of VISION 2020, a number of international initiatives and programmes had raised the profile and increased inter- ventions for child health and survival, which also had a positive impact on eye diseases and blindness in children, e.g. the Expanded Programme for Immunisation (EPI )(1974) and the Global School Health Initiative (1995). Since 2000, the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals have emphasised the need to promote child health and survival. Since VISION 2020 was launched in 1999, controlling blindness in children has been a high priority. Child Eye Care Centres are being established with well-trained, well-equipped teams, particularly in Asia. Programmes for detecting babies with retin- opathy of prematurity (ROP) are expanding in Latin America, India, China, and other countries in Asia. Many school-going children are having their visual acuity measured and those with refractive error are being provided with spectacles. Finally, there is improved availability of affordable consumables and equipment, such as paediatric low vision devices, small diameter intraocular lenses, and spectacles for children. This article presents an overview of what we have learnt over the past twenty years and outlines some of the challenges we still have to face in order to control avoidable blindness in children and adequately support those with incurable visual

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