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October 1996

Cataract Blindness: How Eye Surgeons Can Address the Global Problem

Arch Ophthalmol. 1996;114(10):1299-1300. doi:10.1001/archopht.1996.01100140499043

The main cause of blindness has shifted from infection (onchocerciasis, trachoma, corneal ulcers) to cataracts. Similarly, blindness caused by malnutrition (keratomalacia) is disappearing in the more affluent developing nations.

As a result of a lack of effective international organization in the poor areas of the world, the number—in the millions—of blind cataract victims continues to increase, despite great medical advances that can allow normal vision to be restored at low cost to all blind cataract patients.

As life span increases, according to some reports,1 cataract now accounts for 50% of blindness today. In the past, intracapsular cataract extraction was used to treat cataracts, but unfortunately this method only restores limited vision. For a number of reasons, intracapsular cataract extraction is still usually the procedure used, although it is now clear that extracapsular cataract extraction (ECCE) and posterior chamber implant can restore normal vision to thousands of victims of cataracts

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