Background :

Paediatric eye care and childhood blindness is recognized as a global issue and there is much that remains to be done. It is estimated that 285 million people are visually impaired worldwide and of whom 39 million are blind. There is an estimated 1.5 million blind children globally and about 500,000 children becoming blind each year and three fourths of this is in the developing countries.

Tackling of ocular conditions in children and eliminating avoidable childhood blindness is a priority of VISION 2020, which was launched as a global initiative, by the World Health Organization (WHO) and International Agency for Prevention of Blindness (IAPB). The prevalence of childhood blindness is influenced by the socio economic development of the country and is associated with the mortality rate of those under five years of age. Very few population based studies have been done to estimate the prevalence of childhood blindness but available evidence suggests that one out of every 1000 children is blind in the developing countries. In the US, about 5-10% of children suffer from vision related problems. Another study say that in India 5.1% of children in schools had visual acuity of <6/12. Prevalence of myopia is the highest among Asians, at 18.5%.

The major causes relating to paediatric eye care in most Asian and African countries are:

  • Paediatric cataract
  • Retinopathy of Prematurity
  • Refractive errors
  • Corneal scars
  • Vitamin deficiencies
  • Retinal dystrophies and
  • Harmful traditional practices.

This is quite different from developed countries like US and UK, where cortical visual impairments, optic nerve hypoplasia and retinopathy of prematurity are the common cause of childhood blindness. Though childhood blindness accounts for only 4% of the total blind population, the impact it has on the socio-economic aspects of families and development of a country is quite high, due to increased number of blind years and dependencies created as a result of it.
In many of the poor and low income countries, the problems of availability of paediatric ophthalmologists, infrastructure, reaching out to the child population, and lack of awareness continue to be the major hindrances in service delivery.

Scope of the workshop:

In this context, it is important to revisit our strategies in paediatric eye care delivery and build a sustainable service delivery model to address the myriad gaps and challenges in the field.

The key focus areas of the workshop would be
  • Understanding present status and changing pattern of paediatric eye diseases contributing to childhood blindness globally
  • Challenges faced in care delivery: Challenges faced with respect to resources, the disease entity, geography, economic status and other conditions.
  • Understanding innovations and successful intervention models for the eye conditions listed
  • Identifying areas of interest in paediatric eye care research
  • Understanding various aspects of childhood blindness (with special focus on ROP, refractive error, retinal dystrophies) causes, clinical outcomes, challenges and intervention models and to come up with actionable strategies towards improving paediatric eye care delivery.
  • Collaborations, cross-learning and resource-sharing platforms for effective care delivery and research.
  • Identification of areas for collaborative research

Workshop format:

Presentations and plenary consultations. Each session will deal with the following

  • Disease profiling, clinical interventions and strategies to address the problem
  • Discussion on challenges: (Clinical, HR, outreach) and sharing of model interventions.
  • Documenting key strategies facilitate idea generation to enhance paediatric eye care delivery

Resource team:

Recognizing the importance of this several of the ophthalmologists who have done pioneering work in this field have already agreed to participate. Some of them are:

  • Dr. Marilyn Miller, a renowned pediatric ophthalmologist who is interested in international paediatric ophthalmology (USA).
  • Dr. Clare Gilbert, Professor of International Eye Health, ICEH London whose focus is mainly to study the barriers and finding solutions in service delivery in developing world.
  • Dr. Linda Lawrence (USA) a paediatric ophthalmologist whose interest is in promoting early intervention programs for visually impaired children have consented to attend and contribute to this meeting.
  • Mr. R.D. Thulasiraj, Executive Director who has worked with eye care programs globally to enhance effectiveness.


The workshop will cover both clinical and programmatic inputs and thus relevant for ophthalmologists involved in paediatric eye care, person in-charge of projects and Project Managers/Officers from INGOs. Hospitals and institutions can also participate in teams, including people who are directly involved in care delivery. The total number of participants will be limited to 40 - 45.

LEAD FACULTY: Dr. Vijayalakshmi,