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Causes and emerging trends of childhood blindness: findings from schools for the blind in Southeast Nigeria
  1. Ada Aghaji1,
  2. Obiekwe Okoye1,
  3. Richard Bowman2
  1. 1Department of Ophthalmology, College of Medicine, University of Nigeria, Enugu, Nigeria
  2. 2International Centre for Eye Health London School of Hygiene & Medicine, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Ada Aghaji, Department of Ophthalmology, College of Medicine, University of Nigeria, Enugu, Nigeria; aaghaji{at}yahoo.co.uk

Abstract

Aim To ascertain the causes severe visual impairment and blindness (SVI/BL) in schools for the blind in southeast Nigeria and to evaluate temporal trends.

Methods All children who developed blindness at <15 years of age in all the three schools for the blind in southeast Nigeria were examined. All the data were recorded on a WHO/Prevention of Blindness (WHO/PBL) form entered into a Microsoft Access database and transferred to STATA V.12.1 for analysis. To estimate temporal trends in causes of blindness, older (>15 years) children were compared with younger (≤15 years) children.

Results 124 children were identified with SVI/BL. The most common anatomical site of blindness was the lens (33.9%). Overall, avoidable blindness accounted for 73.4% of all blindness. Exploring trends in SVI/BL between children ≤15 years of age and those >15 years old, this study shows a reduction in avoidable blindness but an increase in cortical visual impairment in the younger age group.

Conclusions The results from this study show a statistically significant decrease in avoidable blindness in children ≤15 years old. Corneal blindness appears to be decreasing but cortical visual impairment seems to be emerging in the younger age group. Appropriate strategies for the prevention of avoidable childhood blindness in Nigeria need to be developed and implemented.

  • Child health (paediatrics)

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