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Causes of severe visual impairment and blindness in children in the Republic of Suriname
  1. Astrid Anna Maria Heijthuijsen1,
  2. Victoria Apollonia Annemarie Beunders1,
  3. Dinesh Jiawan2,
  4. Anne-Marie Bueno de Mesquita-Voigt2,
  5. Jerrel Pawiroredjo2,
  6. Maarten Mourits1,
  7. Michael Tanck3,
  8. Joost Verhoeff4,
  9. Peerooz Saeed1
  1. 1Department of Ophthalmology, Orbital Center, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  2. 2Department of Ophthalmology, Suriname Eye Center, Academic Hospital Paramaribo, Paramaribo, Republic of Suriname
  3. 3Department of Clinical Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Bioinformatics, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  4. 4Department of Radiotherapy, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  1. Correspondence to Dr Peerooz Saeed, Department of Ophthalmology, Orbital Center, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, PO Box 22660, Amsterdam 1100 DD, The Netherlands; p.saeed{at}amc.uva.nl

Abstract

Aims To determine the causes of severe visual impairment and blindness (SVI/BL) in children in Suriname (Dutch Guyana) and to identify preventable and treatable causes.

Methods 4643 children under 16 years of age were recruited from two locations: 33 children attending the only school for the blind were examined and 4610 medical records were analysed at an eye clinic. Data have been collected using the WHO Prevention of Blindness Programme eye examination record for children.

Results 65 children were identified with SVI/BL, 58.5% were blind and 41.5% were severely visually impaired (SVI). The major anatomical site of SVI/BL was the retina in 33.8%, lens in 15.4% and normal appearing globe in 15.4%. The major underlying aetiology of SVI/BL was undetermined in 56.9% (mainly cataract and abnormality since birth) and perinatal factors 21.5% (mainly retinopathy of prematurity (ROP)). Avoidable causes of SVI/BL accounted for 40% of cases; 7.7% were preventable and 32.3% were treatable with cataracts and ROP the most common causes (15.4% and 12.3%, respectively).

Conclusions More than a third of the SVI/BL causes are potentially avoidable, with childhood cataract and ROP the leading causes. Corneal scarring from vitamin A deficiency does not seem to be a continuing issue in Suriname.

  • Child health (paediatrics)
  • Epidemiology
  • Public health
  • Vision

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