The Prevalence of Blindness and Cataract Surgery in Rautahat District, Nepal
Purpose: The Gaur Eye Hospital, which provides eye care services to the people in Rautahat and adjacent districts, completed 9 years of operation in 2006. Over 14,000 cataract surgeries were performed during this period. This study aimed to ascertain the impact of the hospital services by estimating the prevalence of blindness, visual impairment and cataract surgical coverage among the older adult population of the Rautahat district. Methods: People aged 50 years and older were enrolled in this
... study that used a stratified cluster design. Subjects in 32 randomly selected clusters were identified through door-to-door visits, presenting and corrected visual acuities measurement, and clinical examination by ophthalmologists were conducted at a centrally located site. Results: Of the 5,533 identified subjects, 85.3% were examined. Blindness was defined as presenting with visual acuity < 6/60 in both eyes. Blindness was found in 17.4% (95% Confidence Interval: 15.1 to 19.7); however, 55.6% of individuals examined had vision < 6/18 in one or both eyes. Cataracts were the principal cause of blindness in 82.1%, and were associated with elder age, illiteracy and female gender. Surgical coverage was found to be 37.3%. Conclusion: The findings suggest that despite 9 years of hospital and community eye care services the prevalence of blindness in this area is still challengingly high and the cataract surgical coverage unacceptably low. Community outreach awareness programs and accessibility for the Nepali cataract blind to the hospital need to be upgraded.