Childhood blindness and severe visual impairment in Malaysia: a nationwide study

Patel, DK; Tajunisah, I; Gilbert, C; Subrayan, V; (2011) Childhood blindness and severe visual impairment in Malaysia: a nationwide study. Eye (London, England), 25 (4). pp. 436-442. ISSN 0950-222X DOI:

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Aim To determine the causes of childhood blindness and severe visual impairment (BL/SVI) in schools for the blind in Malaysia. Methods All children <= 15years attending 24 schools for the blind throughout the country were examined using the WHO Prevention of Blindness Programme (WHO/PBL) eye examination record for children, and visual loss was classified according to the International Classification of Disease (ICD). Results In all, 469 children were examined, of whom 448 (95.6%) had BL/SVI. The major causes of visual loss were retinal disorders (n = 148, 33%; mainly retinopathy of prematurity (n = 78, 17.4%)), cataract/pseudophakia/aphakia (n = 77, 17.2%), and anomalies affecting the whole globe. (n 86, 19.2%). The major underlying etiology was undetermined (n = 193, 43.1%), followed by hereditary factors, 21.7% (mainly retinal dystrophies), and perinatal factors, 20.5%. More than 34 (7.6%) cases were considered potentially preventable and 192 (42.9%) potentially treatable. Conclusion Diseases of the retina are the major cause of visual impairment, with retinopathy of prematurity being an important avoidable cause. This reflects expansion of neonatal services in Malaysia, and improved survival of very low birth weight and preterm babies. Lens-related causes of visual impairment reflect the need to further improve pediatric ophthalmology services in Malaysia. Eye (2011) 25, 436-442; doi:10.1038/eye.2011.19; published online 25 February 2011

Item Type: Article
Keywords: childhood blindness, severe visual impairment, Malaysia, retinopathy of, prematurity, WHO prevention of blindness programme, SEVERE RETINOPATHY, TEMPORAL TRENDS, PREMATURITY, CHILDREN, SCHOOLS, INDIA, INDONESIA, INFANTS, BABIES, CHINA
Faculty and Department: Faculty of Infectious and Tropical Diseases > Dept of Clinical Research
Research Centre: The International Centre for Evidence in Disability
International Centre for Eye Health
Centre for Maternal, Reproductive and Child Health (MARCH)
Centre for Global Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs)
PubMed ID: 21350565
Web of Science ID: 289554500005


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