Blind World

Cataract cases on the rise.

November 11, 2004.

By chris mcmillan,
China Daily.

BEIJING, Nov. 11 (Xinhuanet) -- The latest medical research from China's Qinghai-Tibet Plateau shows plateau residents have a higher incidence of cataracts than plains residents.

The news was found during recent epidemiology research on cataracts among 2,360 elderly people living at altitudes above 3,500 metres. The research was jointly launched by Hui Yu, dean of Eye Studies at the People's Hospital of Northwest China's Qinghai Province, and other ophthalmologists from the hospital.

According to the research, 40.2 per cent of the group over 50 years old suffer from cataract. The incidence of cataracts was found to be higher in males and in the older participants.

Hui said the research indicates that the occurrence of cataracts is closely related to the patient's gender, vocation and sunlight hours.

Hui said that generally men parti-cipate in more outdoor activities than women, resulting in more sun exposure.

Ophthalmologists suggest people living on plateaus pay attention to strong sunlight and try to reduce sunlight damage by wearing hats and sunglasses. The doctors also suggest the residents increase their intake of vitamins.

In recent years, cataracts have become the number one threat to the eye health of China's elderly. Approximately 5 million elderly Chinese suffer from cataracts, with an annual increase of 8-10 per cent. About 60 per cent of Chinese people over 60 suffer from cataracts.

The Tibet Autonomous Region has become a place with a very high incidence of cataracts, with its cataract rate double that in the rest of China. Each year, cases of cataract blindness in Tibet increase by 5,000, making cataracts Tibet's number one cause of blindness.

A survey by Tibet's health bureau and the SEVA foundation of the United States last March on Tibet's eye disease sufferers showed the region's incidence of cataracts is 14.6 per cent, much higher than China's average.

This means about 360,000 out of the 2.63 million people in Tibet are cataract patients. Enditem

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