Sourajit Kumar Banerjee, Bachelors in Optometry

Master’s in Optometry (Final year student), Sushant University, Haryana, India.



“India the land of diversity, uniqueness and of great leaders who are acknowledged globally ” continuing its legacy, India became the first country to launch a national program in the year 1976 which is commonly known as NPCB “National Programme for control of blindness”. NPCBVI is enactive as a policymaker, monitor & evaluation of policies, budget providers, guide & supporter. It was a 100% centrally sponsored program initially (1); partial state funding was allocated in the ratio of (60:40).

The primary goal was to reduce the prevalence of blindness to <0.3% by 2000 revised to 2020 (2) and their national health policy was to reduce blindness to 0.25% by 2025 (revised). (3)

Main Objectives

Table-1: Main Objectives of NPCB

To reduce the backlog of blindness through identification & treatment of blind Development of comprehensive eye care facilities at each level (i.e., Primary, secondary & tertiary centre, district hospital)
Development of human resources for providing eye care services, Improve the quality-of-service delivery & private practitioners in eye care Enhance community awareness on eye care.


Blindness Criteria:

NPCB&VI follows the same criteria as given by World Health Organization (WHO) (4)

Table-2: Visual Impairment and Blindness Criteria

Category of Visual Impairment Visual Acuity
Early Visual Impairment (EVI) < 6/12-6/18
Moderate Visual Impairment (MVI) < 6/18-6/60
Severe Visual Impairment (SVI) < 6/60-3/60
Blindness < 3/60-PL (Perception of Light)

If the Present Visual Acuity is <6/18 in the better eye with available correction, then it comes under the category of visual impairment.


Estimated prevalence of blindness and visual impairment (Overall population 93,000) (2)

Table-3: Prevalence of Blindness and Visual Impairment

Category of Visual Impairment Prevalence (%)
Early Visual Impairment (EVI) 2.92%
Moderate Visual Impairment (MVI) 1.84%
Severe Visual Impairment (SVI) 0.35%
Blindness 0.35%

From all this data we can say that the current prevalence of blindness 0.36% is close to the target of 0.3% by 2020 are the indication of improved health efficiency.

Roles of an optometrist:

  • Early detection, treatment & screening at primary level: Being the first line of contact with the patient, proper screening & early detection can save the patient from severe visual impairment.
  • Vision testing and refraction: Uncorrected refractive error is a common cause of avoidable blindness. We can reduce the prevalence by providing proper vision testing and refraction.
  • Dispensing spectacles: Dispensing spectacles according to the needs of the patient is very important. Early dispensing of spectacles to children with refractive error can eliminate other abnormalities like amblyopia, suppression, etc.
  • Refer & triage individuals needing surgery: Referring individuals needing surgery is very crucial to reduce the backlog. A cataract is the highest cause of avoidable blindness; a timely referral will reduce its prevalence
  • Pre & Post-operative follow-up procedure: To achieve a successful operation the Pre & Post-operative care and follow-up is of great importance. If proper care is
  • Training of Volunteers and eye care personnel: Training of workers/volunteers and schoolteachers are important so that vision screening can be done to segregate the vision impairment
  • Research in Eye Care: Research for understanding the National & global eye care needs and providing cost-effective, available, and easily applicable solutions. The role of an optometrist in research is very important to establish an evidence-based solution and implementation of Eyecare models.

 “Optometrist’s need to take responsibility for prevention, health promotion & education,”


Co-management among Optometrist-Ophthalmologists is and will be the way forward in achieving the goals, objectives, roles in NPCBVI and National Health Policy.


  1. Vemparala, R., & Gupta, P. (2017). National Programme for control of blindness (NPCB) in the 12th five-year plan: an overview. The Official Scientific Journal of Delhi Ophthalmological Society27(4), 290-292.
  2. National Blindness & Visual Impairment survey India 2015-2019 – A SUMMARY REPORT.
  3. National Health Policy 2017.
  4. Vashist, P., Senjam, S. S., Gupta, V., Gupta, N., & Kumar, A. (2017). Definition of blindness under National Programme for Control of Blindness: Do we need to revise it? Indian journal of ophthalmology, 65(2), 92.

“The blog is written solely for education purpose, and it does not have any financial support and conflict of interest.”