Blindness in Developing Countries

According to Dr. Angi, President of the NGO CMB Italy, the increase in blindness in disadvantaged areas of the world is caused, in addition to nutrition problems, by the lack of health facilities, specialized personnel and "simple" corrective tools such as glasses and lenses.
Federico Bartolomei

It is estimated that there are 285 million blind and partially sighted people of all ages worldwide. The causes of this phenomenon vary depending on whether we refer to the more industrialized countries rather than to the poorer countries. It is interesting to observe how nutrition represents a constant risk factor. Still today, though less than in the past, vitamin A deficiency causes visual impairment in children suffering from malnutrition and, at the other end of the spectrum, dietary excesses are threatening the health of those who live in wellness and opulence. For example, diabetic retinopathy, a disease steadily increasing in rates, is considered the main cause of blindness among the working-age population. In general, the scientific community is in agreement that in many cases blindness would be preventable through adequate large-scale screening programs. To better understand the reality of today's world, we interviewed Dr. Angi, ophthalmologist and president of CBM Italy, a non-governmental organization that has always worked in the most disadvantaged areas of the globe.


Dr. Angie during a visit in Africa

"The first cause of blindness in the world," explains Dr. Angi, "is still cataracts, and this happens due to the lack of both adequate health facilities and trained health personnel. It is also surprising to know that the first cause of low vision is the lack of correction of refractive errors such as hypermetropia, myopia and astigmatism. This is caused by the difficulties in making diagnosis and in finding the glasses that would be necessary for correcting the conditions. If in the Southern part of the world there is still much to do, we must not make the mistake of lowering our guard even in our part of the world. In an advanced country like Italy, it is estimated that for a disease such as glaucoma, which is fortunately now less prevalent than in the past, 50% of people affected are sadly given a late diagnosis.


"The future will depend a lot on programs we will be able to establish today," continues Dr. Angi, "it is estimated that blindness and low vision will rise threefold worldwide, due to the increase and the average age of the population. I believe that eye health awareness and prevention must become a priority if we want to safeguard the health of our future generations."



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