Prevalence of blindness and cataract surgical coverage in Narayani Zone, Nepal: a rapid assessment of avoidable blindness (RAAB) study

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Abstract

Background

The 1981 Nepal Blindness Survey first identified the Narayani Zone as one of the regions with the highest prevalence of blindness in the country. Subseuqently, a 2006 survey of the Rautahat District of the Narayani Zone found it to have the country’s highest blindness prevalence. This study examines the impact on blind avoidable and treatable eye conditions in this region after significant increase in eye care services in the past decade.

Methods

The rapid assessment of avoidable blindness (RAAB) methodology was used with mobile data collection using the mRAAB smartphone app. Data analysis was done using the standard RAAB software. Based on the 2011 census, 100 clusters of 50 participants aged 50 years or older were randomly sampled proportional to population size.

Results

Of the 5000 participants surveyed, 4771 (95.4%) were examined. The age-adjusted and sex-adjusted prevalence of bilateral blindness, severe visual impairment (SVI) and moderate visual impairment (MVI) were 1.2% (95% CI 0.9% to 1.5%), 2.5% (95% CI 2.0% to -3.0%) and 13.2% (95% CI 11.8% to 14.5%), respectively. Cataract remains the primary cause of blindness and SVI despite cataract surgery coverage (CSC) of 91.5% for VA<3/60. Women still account for two-thirds of blindness.

Conclusion

The prevalence of blindness in people over the age of 50 years has decreased from 6.9% in 2006 to 1.2%, a level in keeping with the national average; however, significant gender inequity persists. CSC has improved but continues to favour men.

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