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Translation - English SUMMARY OF RESEARCH ON THE CAUSES OF BLINDNESS IN TAIWAN
The result of the first systematic national investigation on blind people, the research on the causes of blindness in Taiwan, was publishes yesterday (march 28). The research was originated by Orbis Taiwan and Chung-Hwa Eye Bank Foundation, with the joint effort of Chung-Hwa Association of Blindness. The executive institution was the Gallup Organization. The organizations initiating this research aimed to understand the main causes of blindness in Taiwan through interviews for the reference of future promotion of preventing and treating blindness.
The research was conducted in 2 phases. The first phase was a qualitative research, including focus group discussions and one-to-one in-depth interviews while the second phase was a quantitative telephone interview research, wishing to take care of the width and the depth of the research. The interviewees were the blind people over age 15 who live in Taiwan. There were 400 effective samples with 95% confidence level and within ¡Ó5.0% inaccuracy rate. The interviews were conducted between October 20 and October 30 in 2003.
Chung-Hwa Association of Blindness provided the list of their members as the sample base of the research. However, due to the sample base was not indicative, the ¡§stratified random sampling¡¨ was adopted preliminarily, from which the samples were extracted according to the blindness portion of the total population of each county or city. The interviews were conducted by the Chung-Hwa Association of Blindness according to the list of its members, assisted by a multi-channel information gathering method, including going to the Institution for the Blind and massage salons for one-to-one interviews. Owing to the reason that part of the blind people tended to reject the interviews, there were difficulties for the conduct of the research. Furthermore, it was discovered in the interviews that blind people who were of lower income and education level and older age were more likely to refuse the interviews
42% of the blindness of the interviewees was from an acquired disease; 23% was from inheritance or pathological changes; 14% was from accidents; 2.75% was resulted from occupational accidents. Among the acquired disease category, 10.5% of the interviewees¡¦ blindness was resulted from infection or fever; 8.75% from retinal detachment; 8.25% from glaucoma and 7% from optic nerve disease.
It was discovered that the percentage of the causes of blindness that were from acquired accidents or traffic accidents did not reach 10%. However, in the qualitative research, it was found that the blindness caused by acquired or traffic accidents could be rescued by early treatment or the knowledge of preventing blindness people possessed. Therefore, in the future promotion of preventing and treating blindness, the ideas of how people prevent eye accidents and the basic knowledge of handling the accident shall be reinforced. For example, imitating the handling procedure of burning the ¡§3B 3C¡¨ procedure, simplifying the handling method of preventing and protecting eye accidents and promoting the method, in order to effectively reduce all kind of possibilities that might cause blindness.
35% of the interviewees spent more than 10 years from the occurrence of the eye diseases or accidents to the termination of treatment; 18% was within 1-2 weeks; 19% spent more than 10 years including self-acceptance of the blindness.
Most of the interviewees noted, during the focus group discussions on their treatments and mental status, that they suffered from tremendous mental impacts after the acquired diseases or accidents. One participant stated that he locked himself in his own room for 6, 7 years, allowing him only to eat and sleep. Another participant said that the decay of his vision made him excluded from the folks in his hometown, and even his family did not understand him. Only one participant, whose vision started to decline when he was in elementary school, faced the reality of the blindness and lives his life optimistically and happily.
According to the result of the quantitative research, there is quite a correlation between the occurrence timing of the blindness and the life cycle. The infant period is the period of the highest risk, then the teenage and children periods. The causes of blindness within these higher risk periods include: inheritance or pathological changes, acquired diseases and acquired accidents. To reduce the occurrence rate of blindness among the younger population, first, the education on parents shall be reinforced, including: How to prevent infections during pregnancy that may cause new-born babies¡¦ blindness; How parents prevent babies¡¦ eyes from damages or infections when they are ill or have fever.
Higher percentage of the occurrence of traffic accidents falls on the population that are of age 16-20 and 26-35. Occupational accidents happen more on population that is of age 21-40. The blindness prevention education to these populations shall emphasize more on the attention to traffic safety and occupational accidents, using media to promote people¡¦s knowledge of blindness prevention in their daily life.
Based on the results, blind people, whose blindness was from acquired factors, usually need to spend more than 2 years and even longer to mentally accept the possibility of becoming blind. Moreover, before the mental acceptance of the reality of blindness, the possibility brings the potential blind and their family a certain degree of trauma. To reduce the mental barrier of the patient as well as providing their family essential assistance, it is suggested that eye doctors or medical staff who directly contact the patients offer mental consultations and relevant information in terms of social resources or relative groups, in order to effectively reduce the predicament that the patient cannot face the reality of blindness and his/her family finds no way to help.
As for the impact on the blind people¡¦s economic status, 58% of the interviewees stated that they did not know or forget the expenditure on treatments; 26.5% said they spent around NT$100,000 on the treatments. 2% of the total interviewees spent NT$5,000,000 and above on their treatments.
63% of the interviewees currently have jobs; 18% without a job. Among the employed interviewees, 80% of them are massagists (or occupations relating to blind massages). 37% of the employed interviewees did not change their jobs or find a job immediately; 15% spent more than 10 years to locate a job since the blindness; 12% spent between 2-3 years; 8.35% spent between 5-10 years; 7.95% spent between 3-5 years. 59% of the employed interviewees¡¦ income did not change after the blindness (among which 90% of the interviewees had their blindness before age 20); 21% of them have income that is under 60% of the income before blindness; 12% of them have income that is under 40% of their previous income.
In the in-depth interviews by experts and specialists, if the process of the formulation of blindness is very long, the family¡¦s economy will be greatly affected. Apart from the unemployment, a lot of families spent their fortune to the treatments, which most of the time ruined the family. It was discovered in both qualitative and quantitative researches that from the vision decay to blindness, the blind people often had to face not only to the economic pressure but also the accompanying family and social problems. Under the present National Health Insurance system, the blind people pay less for treatment, but their living expenses and expenditures (especially in the process of treatment) are still problems, expect that the cases have been reported to the government and confirmed. It is suggested that relevant governmental organizations trace the blind-people-to-be through our medical system, offer them necessary assistances (including the possibility of acquiring funding, family assistance and future employment) in the process of their treatment to reduce the social cost blind people cost during their treatments.
85% of the interviewees stated that they did not receive any information of preventing blindness before their blindness; 9% received the information; 5.75% did not know or refused to answer the question. 54% said that if they received the information before the blindness, the chance would have reduced; 28% said the reception of the information would not reduce the chance. Among the interviewees who did not think the chance would reduce, 35% said the reason was that accidents were difficult to prevent; 32% thought the inheritance was impossible to change; 18% said medication could not cure blindness.
39% of the interviewees brought forth that at present the employment opportunities shall be reinforced; 31% said there should be more public disability access facilities; 27% said they need reinforcements on job trainings and consultations; 22.5% said they need trainings on professional skills; 15.5% needed computer trainings; 14.75% stated the interaction between normal and blind people shall be promoted; 10.5% noted the importance of use of assisting equipment in daily life; 10.5% said they needed trainings on using computer software.
Master's degree - University of Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
Years of experience: 19. Registered at ProZ.com: Feb 2003.