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Corneal blindness in the developing world: The role of prevention strategies.

Corneal blindness is an important contributor to the burden of global blindness and has a greater prevalence in low-income countries of the developing world where resources and infrastructure are limited. The causes of corneal blindness too are different from high-income countries and include infectious keratitis, ocular trauma, and xerophthalmia. Persons with these indications tend to have unfavourable outcomes after corneal transplantation, limiting their chances of benefitting from this sight-saving procedure. However, most causes of corneal blindness in the developing world are preventable. This highlights the importance of understanding the unique challenges in these regions and the need for targeted interventions. This article discusses various prevention strategies, including primordial, primary, and secondary prevention, aimed at reducing the burden of corneal blindness in low-income countries. These include capacity building, training, and awareness campaigns to reduce the risk factors of ocular trauma, infectious keratitis, and to improve access to first aid. It is also important to promote safe eye practices and tackle nutritional deficiencies through public health interventions and policy changes. Providing the required training to general ophthalmologists in the management of basic corneal surgeries and diseases and enhancing the accessibility of eye care services in rural areas will ensure early treatment and prevent sequelae. Current treatment modalities belong to the tertiary level of prevention and are largely limited to corneal transplantation. In developing nations, there is a scarcity of donor corneal tissue necessitating an urgent expansion of eye banking services. Alternative approaches to corneal transplantation such as 3D printed corneas, cultured stem cells, and biomaterials should also be explored to meet this demand. Thus, there is a need for collaborative efforts between healthcare professionals, policymakers, and communities to implement effective prevention strategies and reduce the prevalence of corneal blindness in the developing world.

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