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Understanding refractive error

Definition of refractive error in the context of public health and description of its epidemiology.

Uncorrected refractive error is a major cause of visual impairment in the world after cataract. Estimates from 2004 indicate that over 8 million people are blind and over 145 million are visually impaired because they lack refractive correction.

In this step we define refractive error in the context of public health and describe its epidemiology. We then go on to explore the factors which affect refractive error service delivery and school health programmes.

Stakeholders in correction of refractive error

In 2006 the WHO noted that:

“Without appropriate optical correction, millions of children are losing educational opportunities and adults are excluded from productive working lives, with severe economic and social consequences. Individuals and families are frequently pushed into a cycle of deepening poverty because of their inability to see well. At least 13 million children (age 5 to 15) and 45 million working-age adults (age 16 to 49) are affected globally. Fully 90% of all people with uncorrected refractive errors live in low and middle income countries.”

Who are the key stakeholders to involve when attempting to address this situation in a local setting?

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Global Blindness: Planning and Managing Eye Care Services

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