In England and Wales, the prevalence of blindness in 1980 for children under five years was 9: 100,000. This figure increased to 2324: 100,000 for adults over 75 years. In the western world, blindness in children is largely because of inherited genetic disease and birth trauma. In adults aged 20-60 years, the major causes are diseases of the retina, including diabetic retinopathy and optic atrophy. Over the age of 60 years, macular degeneration, glaucoma and cataract are the important problems.
In Africa and Asia, the causes of blindness are rather different; many children become blind from corneal scarring associated with vitamin A deficiency and measles. Cataract is the most important cause in adults but in certain areas, for example southern Sudan, onchocerciasis and trachoma are still a serious problem.
It is apparent that the problems of blindness in Europe and North America are different from those in poorer parts of the world where much could still be done by improving standards of nutrition and living conditions.
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