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August 3, 1957


Author Affiliations

Spokane, Wash.; Seattle

JAMA. 1957;164(14):1525-1530. doi:10.1001/jama.1957.02980140001001

• The relative importance of various causes of blindness has varied through the years. Since 1900 there has been a steady decline in the percentage of cases of blindness ascribed to infectious diseases, including gonorrhea. This decline is largely explained by the advent of antibiotics. Retrolental fibroplasia reached a peak in 1952 and declined promptly when it was recognized as a manifestation of oxygen poisoning. Cataract has increased steadily; treatment has improved, but the cause remains unknown and the number of people attaining the cataract age has increased. Corticosteroids have caused irreversible damage in some cases of herpes simplex of the cornea and are specifically contraindicated in that condition; they are valuable, however, in the prevention of sympathetic ophthalmia, which used to be a major risk after eye injuries. Trauma has continued to be an important cause of blindness; emphasis needs to be placed on protective measures and prompt treatment. Research on the ocular complications of systemic disease and on the etiology of glaucoma is particularly important because these two factors together still account for about one-fifth of all cases of blindness.