Not enough eye specialists in India to treat preventable blindness

As many as 10 crore Indians suffering from blindness-related ailments have no access to a pair of glasses, mainly due to lack of eye specialists in smaller towns and cities.

Although the cost of a pair of glasses is as low as Rs 250, lack of access has made the problem of preventable blindness a major one in India.

In most cases, a pair of glasses is all that is needed for those suffering from blindness-related ailments, including refractive error. Lack of awareness about these problems is also another reason.

India has one-third of the eye specialists that are needed. Over one lakh people are needed but there are only 45,000.

Five to seven per cent of children in India are myopic and they need glasses to study better. For older people, it's a huge issue, especially in villages, say experts.

The World Health Organisation estimates that India loses more than a lakh crore in productivity every year due to preventable blindness.

He feels there is not only the need for more colleges but also more mechanisms to deliver the courses. There is also a need for online courses and to increase the intake of students.

The second World Congress of Optometry, which concluded in Hyderabad this week, saw the world's leading eye health experts discussing new ideas, sharing research and knowledge from various facets of eye care.

Globally, uncorrected refractive errors are the main cause of moderate and severe visual impairment. Cataracts remain the leading cause of blindness in middle and low income countries.

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