A retrospective study was conducted to assess the causes of blindness and visual impairment in patients who visited an eye hospital in Sierra Leone, West Africa, in 1989 and 1992. These data were compared with figures from 1981. Throughout the years, senile cataract was the major cause of blindness, followed by uveitis (including onchocerciasis). Uveitis remained the second most important cause of blindness in this population, despite the significant decrease in blindness from onchocerciasis (from 30% in 1981 to 15% in 1992). An increasing number of patients with uveitis from non-onchocercal origin was observed: almost 10% of the blindness found in 1992 was due to uveitis of non-onchocercal origin. A reduction in visual handicap in patients with non-onchocercal uveitis could be achieved if local hospitals could obtain more accurate diagnoses in these patients.
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