My initial interest in childhood blindness
was triggered by the number of blind and visually handicapped children I
encountered at St John Eye Hospital (SJEH), Jerusalem soon after
commencing work there in 1985.
Data on the size of the problem in the
West Bank (West Bank) and Gaza Strip (Gaza Strip) was absent as it was from
neighbouring countries at the time. The unique geopolitical and
historical characteristics of both West Bank and the Gaza Strip, with its
physical separation geographically after 1948, and the interrupted and
constrained links between the two parts after 1976, together with the
social and economic differences of the population could have left a
different imprint on the pattern of eye disease in each.
The demographic characteristics of the
population, the proximity of towns and villages to each other, especially
in the Gaza Strip, made full access to patients and their families feasible which,
when combined with a well-established oral tradition of transmitting
family history and genealogy throughout the generations, allowed large
scale genealogical studies to be made of the recruited patients and
The data was initially compiled on
special protocol forms and later transferred laboriously onto a database
in the UK. Later still it was adopted in line with modified WHO criteria
on visual acuities and anatomical and aetiological classifications of
This work has focused on two aspects of
childhood blindness; the first is the epidemiology of visual disability
and its causations, including the degree of inbreeding and consanguinity;
the second is clinical, focusing on the commonest conditions encountered.
Detailed clinical findings are spared for separate publications.
The body of the book, therefore, is divided
into six parts;
PART I: INTRODUCTION
This includes five introductory chapters on
the history, geography and demography of the West Bank and Gaza Strip and
some brief information on the demography of the Middle East.
Chapter 1: Aims and objectives of the
Chapter 2: A historical preamble on the
history of blindness in Palestine and the Arab world,
Chapter 3: Epidemiological methods
Chapter 4: History and geography of
Chapter 5: The demography of the Arab world
with emphasis on the Palestinians.
PART II: REVIEW OF LITERATURE
This comprises four chapters of literature
search of related epidemiological data on:
Chapter 6: Epidemiology of childhood
Chapter 7: Epidemiology of childhood
blindness in the Middle East and North Africa (formerly called the Middle
Chapter 8: Prevention of blindness and
Chapter 9: Consanguinity.
Chapter 10: Methodologies
PART IV: EPIDEMIOLOGICAL OF BLINDNESS
Chapter 11: Summary of the results
Chapter 12: Patients and families
Chapter 13: Visual acuities
Chapter 14: Anatomical classification
Chapter 15: Aetiological classification
Chapter 16: Marriage patterns and mode of
inheritance of the hereditary conditions.
Chapter 17: Discussion of the
epidemiological findings on blindness.
PART V: CLINICAL CONDITIONS
Chapter 18: Features, Epidemiology with
PART VI: APPENDICES
Appendix A: Population data
Appendix B: Family Data
Appendix C: Plates