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Bull World Health Organ. 1993;71(5):485-9.

Childhood blindness: a new form for recording causes of visual loss in children.

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Department of Preventive Ophthalmology, Institute of Ophthalmology, London, England.


The new standardized form for recording the causes of visual loss in children is accompanied by coding instructions and by a database for statistical analysis. The aim is to record the causes of childhood visual loss, with an emphasis on preventable and treatable causes, so that appropriate control measures can be planned. With this standardized methodology, it will be possible to monitor the changing patterns of childhood blindness over a period of time in response to changes in health care services, specific interventions, and socioeconomic development.


In London, the International Centre for Eye Health (ICEH), a WHO Collaborating Centre for Blindness Prevention, and WHO have developed a standardized protocol for reporting causes of blindness in children, primarily those in schools for the blind and those attending hospital clinics. There is a section for blind children identified during population-based prevalence surveys. A set of coding instructions and a database for analysis accompany the WHO/PBL Eye Examination Record for Children with Blindness and Low Vision. ICEH and WHO hope the new form will identify preventable and treatable causes of childhood blindness. It will also serve as a mechanism to monitor changing patterns of childhood blindness over time in response to changes in health care services, specific interventions, and socioeconomic development. Further, it will allow eye doctors to assess the requirements of individual children for medical and/or surgical treatment optical correction, and low vision services. Finally, it will give educators the opportunity to assess the educational needs of blind children. The contents of the form include census, personal details, visual assessment, general assessment, previous eye surgery, eye examination (site of abnormality leading to blindness and etiology of blindness), refraction/low vision aid assessment, action needed, prognosis for vision, education, full diagnosis, and names of the examiners. Both ICEH in London, and WHO in Geneva will maintain a centralized data blank. Local ophthalmologists with an interest in pediatric ophthalmology and those assigned to develop the form tested the form while examining about 1600 children in schools for the blind in 4 continents. Ophthalmologists can examine and complete the form on 5-8 children/hour in schools for the blind.

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