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Br J Ophthalmol. 1976 September; 60(9): 665–668.
PMCID: PMC1042790

Causes of blindness among students in blind school institutions in a developing country.


Out of 270 students in 17 blind school institutions in Malawi 73 per cent were blind before the age of three. The most common cause for the blindness was ocular infection (75-2 per cent). Meales, as a single cause, was responsible for 43-7 per cent of the cases and smallpox for 5-2 per cent. Bacterial infections were incriminated in 26-3 per cent of the cases. Most of these had received traditional medicine during the acute phase of the disease. Hereditary factors as causes of blindness were found in 7-8 per cent of the cases. These included congenital cataracts (2-6 per cent), optic atorphy of unknown origin (3-0 per cent), microphthalmos (1-5 per cent), and macular degeneration (0-7 per cent). Careful ophthalmological examination showed that in 37 cases an intervention could be attempted in order to improve the vision. In the 11 most favourable cases this was attempted, with the result that nine cases gained a useful vision of 4/60 to 6/18 in the better eye.

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Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • Awdry PN, Cobb B, Adams PC. Blindness in the Luapula valley. Cent Afr J Med. 1967 Sep;13(9):197–201. [PubMed]
  • Merin S, Lapithis AG, Horovitz D, Michaelson IC. Childhood blindness in Cyprus. Am J Ophthalmol. 1972 Sep;74(3):538–542. [PubMed]
  • Olurin O. Etiology of blindness in Nigerian children. Am J Ophthalmol. 1970 Oct;70(4):533–540. [PubMed]
  • PHILLIPS CM. Blindness in Africans in Northern Rhodesia. Cent Afr J Med. 1961 May;7:153–158. [PubMed]

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