Children's right to sight
Blindness in children has many causes. Half of them are avoidable, and suitable cost effective interventions are available. Haroon Awan and Claire Gilbert explain the current global situation
Blindness in childhood is a priority of Vision 2020, a global initiative for the elimination of avoidable blindness (www.v2020.org), even though the worldwide total of 45 million blind people includes only 1.4 million blind children.12 But blind children have a lifetime of blindness ahead, which affects their opportunities for education, employment, and earning. Blindness that starts early in life adversely affects psychomotor, social, and emotional development. And blind children have a higher death rate than their sighted counterparts.
An estimated 500 000 children become blind each year, but, in developing countries, up to 60% are thought to die within a year of becoming blind.2 Almost half of all blindness in children--particularly those in the poorest communities--is due to avoidable causes that are amenable to cost effective interventions.3
Blindness is more common in developing countries firstly because potentially blinding conditions such as vitamin A deficiency, harmful traditional eye remedies, or cerebral