Blindness in Nepal
Nepal shoulders one of the largest burdens of global blindness with around 600,000 people estimated to be blind or partially sighted.
There are a number of reasons for the high prevalence of blindness in Nepal but poverty is by far the most common cause. With 25% of the population living in rural areas and below the poverty line, access to medical care and education is extremely limited.
Causes of blindness include
- Malnutrition. Vitamin A deficiency(VAD) is the leading cause of blindness in children and pregnant women
- Corneal scarring. Agricultural workers often get infections when they remove the chaff from the wheat and rice by hand - this material can hit an eye, damaging the cornea
- Traditional remedies. Locally used remedies for eye injuries include dirty water, mud and even cow dung
- Civil war. Injuries from faulty weapons and land mines are on the increase
- Insufficient medical care. 80% of conditions are preventable if caught in time
Impact of Blindness
In Nepal, blindness is not merely a medical issue but a developmental issue with social and economic ramifications. No social services exist and blind individuals cannot contribute to family income. Many feel that they are a burden to their families and have very little self-confidence. They are marginalized and neglected and often become objects of pity within local communities.
Blind people in Nepal need vocational opportunities that economically empower them & enable them to generate their own income & lead dignified, independent lives. For this to happen attitudes must change and the promotion of new professions for the blind like massage is essential.