1. Globally, every five seconds, a person goes blind.
2. Nine out of every ten blind persons live in developing economies.
3. According to the National Health Policy document of the Government of India, 1983, “One of the basic human rights is the right to see”.
4. Despite this lofty aim, India’s blind population totals a whopping 12 million.
5. More than two thirds of India’s visually handicapped live in Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh.
6. Cataract, the leading cause of visual disability, accounts for 62.6 percent of blindness in the country.
7. Other causes are glaucoma, macular degeneration, posterior segment pathology, retinal detachment, corneal opacities, retinitis pigmentosa, and surgical complications.
8. A largely undocumented cause for blindness in India is diabetic retinopathy, especially in the working middleclass. The extent of the problem, which can be prevented with good glycemic control, is yet to be estimated.
9. The National Programme for Control of Blindness, launched in 1976, aims to reduce the overall blindness prevalence rate from 14 blind persons per 1000 population to 3.
10. The programme focuses on controlling avoidable blindness; providing high quality eye care to affected persons, especially rural poor; increasing the number of cataract operations and reduction in backlog by screening all population over 50 years.