Skip Navigation LinksVision Health > Eye Conditions > Childhood blindness

Childhood blindness

Childhood blindness refers to a group of diseases and conditions occurring in childhood or early adolescence, which, if left untreated, result in blindness or severe visual impairment.


The major causes of blindness in children vary widely from region to region, since it’s largely determined by socioeconomic development, and the availability of primary health care and eye care services. In high-income countries, lesions of the optic nerve and higher visual pathways predominate as the cause of blindness, while corneal scarring from measles, vitamin A deficiency, the use of harmful traditional eye remedies and rubella cataract are the major causes in low-income countries. Other significant causes in all countries are congenital abnormalities, such as cataracts, glaucoma, and hereditary retinal dystrophies.


Prevention and treatment of childhood blindness is disease specific. For Vitamin A deficiency, at a cost of only 5 US cents a dose, vitamin A supplements reduce child mortality by up to 34% in areas where Vitamin A deficiency is a public health concern. Vitamin A deficiency manifests often during an outbreak of measles. However, carefully planned and implemented national vaccination programmes against measles reduces the chance of eye complications. In middle-income countries, retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) is among the leading causes of blindness, the incidence of which can be reduced through a​vailability and affordability of screening and curative services. Early treatment of cataract and glaucoma can be beneficial, while low vision devices are helpful in children with residual vision.