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India changes definition of blindness

Thu, 04/20/2017 - 10:50 -- geeta.nair

New Delhi, April 19

India has changed its over 40-year-old definition of blindness, bringing it in line with the WHO criteria, a step that would drastically bring down the number of people considered “blind” in the country.

According to the new definition, a person who is unable to count fingers from a distance of three metres would be considered “blind” as against the earlier stipulation of six metres, which was adopted in 1976.

The aim of revising the definition is also to be able to generate data that can be compared with global estimates and achieve the WHO goal of reducing the blindness prevalence in India to 0.3 per cent of the total population by 2020.

The notification in this regard has been issued by the Union Health Ministry.

Going by the new definition, the population of blind people in India will reduce from 1.2 crore (as per National Blindness survey 2007 data) to 80 lakh.

“Because of the earlier definition, we were projecting a higher figure of blind people from India at any international forum, presenting ourselves in poor light. Also, the data that we generated under the programme could not be compared with the global estimates as other countries were following the WHO definition,” said Dr Promila Gupta, Deputy Director General of National Programme for Control of Blindness (NPCB). — PTI

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