THE prevalence of blindness in Fiji is estimated to be less than 1 per cent although there is a variation between divisions and sub-divisions.
According to the Health Ministry, the prevalence of blindness in Fiji is estimated at 0.8 per cent.
Ministry spokesman Shalvin Deo said clinical evidence indicated 80 per cent of blindness was mainly because of three conditions — cataract (56 per cent), uncorrected refractive error (12 per cent) and diabetic retinopathy (12 per cent).
Mr Deo said more than half the blindness was because of cataract alone, saying the three conditions were either preventable or treatable.
"The rapidly rising prevalence rate of diabetes and the high incidence of vision-threatening diabetic retinopathy, especially among the working age group, are of great concern now," he said.
"Cataract surgical rate was previously low although there has been much improvement since the establishment of the Pacific Eye Institute in Suva.
"In the near future, we expect much more development of eye care services in Fiji under the joint collaboration of the Health Ministry and Pacific Eye Institute. The newly-established Diabetic Eye Care Centre is also fighting against vision loss from diabetic retinopathy."
Mr Deo revealed the statistics and made the comments as Fiji and the world celebrated World Sight Day on Wednesday, with local celebrations centred at Nasawana Village in Bua.
"For Fiji, we believe the fight against avoidable blindness is just a small step in the direction towards wellness and is possible through good governance, partnership and commitment from higher policy levels down to service delivery and community level."
Mr Deo said preserving or restoring vision could be accomplished at little cost and help lift people out of poverty.