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Indian J Ophthalmol. 2019 Mar;67(3):386-390. doi: 10.4103/ijo.IJO_795_18.

Prevalence of ocular morbidity among tribal children in Jawadhi hills, southern India: A cross-sectional study.

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Department of Ophthalmology, Schell Eye Hospital, Christian Medical College, Vellore, Tamil Nadu, India.
Department of Community Medicine, CHAD Hospital, Christian Medical College, Vellore, Tamil Nadu, India.



Childhood blindness is second to cataract in terms of blind person years; population-based prevalence of ocular morbidity among tribal children has not been studied. We conducted this study to determine the prevalence of ocular morbidity in tribal children age 15 years or younger in Jawadhi hills, southern India.


A population-based cross-sectional study was conducted in four tribal villages where all children below 15 years of age were invited to participate in the study. After appropriate consent/assent, an optometrist assessed uncorrected vision refraction and best-corrected visual acuity using suitable techniques. A comprehensive ophthalmic examination was also done by an ophthalmologist to determine the presence of ocular morbidity. Children requiring cycloplegic refraction or further treatment were referred to the base hospital.


Among 260 children examined, the prevalence of ocular morbidity was 10.8% [95% confidence interval (CI): 6.3-13.7]. Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) was the foremost morbidity: 4.6% (95% CI 1.6-6.3) followed by refractive error (2.7%). Three (10.7%) children had more than one ocular morbidity. Nearly 1 in 10 tribal children suffer from ocular morbidity and 1 in 57 had low vision.


VAD is a public health problem in this tribal region which requires immediate intervention with prophylaxis and treatment. Uncorrected refractive errors in school-age children also need to be attended.


Low vision; ocular morbidity; refractive error; tribal children; vitamin A deficiency

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