Originally published in Himalayan News Service Kathmandu Oct 28, 2012 

The changing pattern of eye diseases demands that people take care of their food habits and lifestyle. Although Cataract remains the leading cause of blindness as shown by the national survey in 2010 and 1981, the other diseases have shown significant changes.   Nepali Woman with cataract photo by Ellen Crystal

Nepali woman with a cataract. Photo (c) Ellen Crystal Photography

According to Rapid Assessment of Avoidable Blindness Survey by Apex Body for Eye Health at the Health Ministry, Cataract was responsible for 65 per cent of blindness in 2010, which was 72 percent in 1981. The survey showed that a retinal disease was responsible for nine per cent of blindness in 2010 which was three per cent in 1981. Likewise, glaucoma was responsible for five per cent of blindness in 2010, which was three per cent in 1981. Earlier in 1981, trachoma was responsible for three per cent of blindness which came down to one per cent in 2010. YD Sapkota , Programme Coordinator, Nepal Netra Jyoti Sangh (NNJS) said, “The pattern of increased risk is due to the unhealthy lifestyle that people are adopting. Unhealthy diet and lack of exercise are the reasons behind diabetic retinopathy at present time. The survey also showed that age-related macular degeneration, refractive error, surgical complication and diabetic retinopathy has been recorded by four per cent, four per cent, one per cent and 0.2 per cent respectively. At present, there are 21 eye hospitals, 63 primary care centres and 12 eye departments across the country. There are about 275,000 blind people in the country.Ophthalmologist Dr. Sunu Dulal said, “Diabetic retinopathy is the most common diabetic eye disease in the country caused by uncontrolled diabetes.”

Kathmandu photo by Ellen Crystal

Tamil Nadu, Kathmandu Nepal (c) Ellen Crystal Photography

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