Prevention of Blindness and Visual Impairment

Priority eye diseases


Corneal opacities

Definition

Corneal visual impairment encompasses a wide variety of infectious and inflammatory eye diseases that cause scarring of the cornea, the clear membrane that covers the outside of the eye. Significant scarring ultimately leads to functional vision loss.

Magnitude

The 4th cause of blindness globally (5.1%), corneal blindness is one of the major causes of visual deficiency after cataract, glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Trachoma is responsible for nearly 4.9 million blind, mainly as a result of corneal scarring and vascularization. Ocular trauma and corneal ulcerations are significant causes of corneal blindness. They are often underreported but they are estimated at 1.5 to 2.0 million new cases of unilateral blindness every year. Among the causes of childhood blindness (approximately 1.5 million cases in the world and 5 million children with visual impairment) appear xerophthalmia (350,000 cases per year), new-born conjunctivitis, and rarer ocular infections like herpes and keratoconjunctivitis.

Even though the control of onchocerciasis and leprosy are public health success stories, these diseases are still significant causes of blindness, affecting approximately 250,000 individuals each. Traditional eye medicines have also been implicated as a major risk factor in the current epidemic of corneal ulceration in developing countries.

Corneal visual impairment encompasses a wide variety of infectious and inflammatory eye diseases that cause corneal scarring, witch ultimately leads to functional vision loss.

Prevention and treatment

Public health prevention programmes are the most cost-effective means of decreasing the global burden of corneal blindness Indeed, the only currently available curative treatment is the surgery, by graft of cornea. But the access to this surgery is very difficult, even in the developed countries, for lack of donors.

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Bilateral corneal opacities