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WHO envisions way out of blindness through early intervention


16:27, October 14, 2011

BEIJING, Oct.14 (Xinhuanet) --The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday that blindness could be avoided in eight out of 10 cases with appropriate treatment or early prevention worldwide.

And the situation here, as Chinese experts said, is quite similar, if not worse.

The WHO estimates that 246 million people have low vision and 39 million are blind, particularly in developing countries, according to a release issued by the organization on World Sight Day, held annually on the second Thursday of October.

In China, at least six million people are blind and nearly 70 percent of the cases are caused by cataracts, said Chen Youxin, deputy director of the ophthalmology department at Peking Union Medical College Hospital. "But actually most of the cataract cases can be fully cured by medical surgery," he said.

More than 80 percent of those who are blind, and another 12 million with low vision, can recover their eyesight after medical treatment, Chen said.

"Low awareness and strained economic conditions are mainly to blame for avoidable cases of blindness, and currently most of the blind people suffering from cataracts live in the underprivileged countryside," Chen said.

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