Blindness Current Affairs - 2020

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January 4: World Braille Day

Every Year January 4 is celebrated as World Braille Day in order to mark the birth anniversary of Louis Braille. Louis is the inventor of Braille, a written language for blind people.

Highlights

The World Braille Day is celebrated by the United Nations and also by other world organizations. In November 2018, the UN passed a resolution in order to celebrate the day. The day was first celebrated on January 4, 2019.

The World Braille Day spreads awareness about Braille script and other accessible forms of communication. Many establishments like banks, hospitals and restaurants fail to print their materials in Braille script. This creates difficulties for visually impaired people. The day marks such difficulties and spreads awareness of their importance.

Louis Braille

Louis Braille was born in Coupvray, France. He lost both his eyes at the age of 3. This was the prime reason behind Braille inventing the 6-dot language called Braille.

Challenges in the use of Braille

Many schools do not offer literacy in Braille. There are many countries in the world that have not included Braille in their educational curriculum. According to the WHO, there are around 2.2 billion people in the world with vision impairment.

Global steps

The 2006 Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities considers Braille essential for education. Also, the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals that were adopted in 2015 pledges that no one will be left behind.

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National Blindness and Visual Impairment Survey, 2019

The National Blindness and Visual Impairment Survey was released by the Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan at the 13th Conference of Central Council of Health and Family Welfare.

The survey was conducted by the AIIMS, Delhi and Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The report was released in October 10, 2019. The survey was conducted between 2015 and 2019.

India is the first country to launch National Program for Control of Blindness in 1976. The aim of the program is currently to reduce the blindness prevalence to 0.3% by 2020.

Key findings of the report

  • Cataract is the leading cause of blindness in people above 50 years. OF these around 93% of blindness cases and 96.2% of visual impairment cases are avoidable
  • The prevalence of blindness in India is 1.99%. Bijnor, Uttar Pradesh has the highest population suffering from blindness. Around 3.67% of the district are blind and 21.82% suffer visual impairment.
  • Blindness is more pronounced among illiterates as compared to literates. Around 3.23% illiterates are blind and 0.43% literates are blind
  • Also, blindness is more prevalent in rural population (2.14%) as compared to urban (1.8%)

Causes of blindness according to the report

  • The causes included
    • Aphakia – Absence of lens in the eye
    • Untreated non-infectious corneal opacity-scarring of cornea
  • Cataract related surgical complication was the second highest cause for blindness.
  • The outcomes of cataract surgery are not good everywhere. Around 40% of cataract were done in government facilities. Rest of the surgeries took place in private and non – profit facilities. Of these, only 57.8% saw good visual outcome.
  • Cost was the biggest barrier in accessing cataract surgeries. Around 22.1% of blindness was caused because of cost as a barrier.
  • Around 22.1% of blindness were caused due to lack of awareness

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