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Causes of childhood blindness: results from schools for the blind in south eastern Nigeria
  1. I R Ezegwui1,
  2. R E Umeh2,
  3. U F Ezepue2
  1. 1Department of Ophthalmology, Federal Medical Centre, Abakaliki, Nigeria
  2. 2Department of Ophthalmology, University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Enugu, Nigeria
  1. Correspondence to: Dr I R Ezegwui, Department of Ophthalmology, University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital Enugu, Nigeria; nducheya{at}yahoo.co.uk

Abstract

Aim: This cross sectional study was undertaken to identify the major causes of childhood severe visual impairment/blindness (SVI/BL) among students in schools for the blind in south eastern Nigeria with a view to offering treatment to those with remediable blindness.

Methods: 142 students attending three schools for the blind in the study area were interviewed and examined using the World Health Organization programme for prevention of blindness (WHO/PBL) childhood blindness proforma.

Results: By anatomical classification, the major causes of SVI/BL identified in the children (aged 15 years or less) were lesions of the lens (30.4%), corneal lesions (21.7%), whole globe lesions (mainly phthisis bulbi) (17.4%), and glaucoma/buphthalmos (10.9%). For the young adults (more than 15 years) these lesions accounted for 31.9%, 21.3%, 23.4%, and 8.5% of SVI/BL, respectively. For all the students, the commonest single diagnoses were cataract (23.5%) and corneal scarring (21.4%), of which 86.7% were caused by measles. By aetiological classification, childhood factors (38.6%) constituted the major cause of blindness: 37.0% in the children and 39.4% in the young adults. In 74.5% of all the students, blindness was considered avoidable.

Conclusions: A high proportion of childhood blindness in schools for the blind in south eastern Nigeria is avoidable. Development of paediatric ophthalmology in Nigeria to manage childhood cataract and glaucoma is advocated.

  • childhood blindness
  • cataract
  • corneal scarring
  • phthisis bulbi
  • Nigeria

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Footnotes

  • Series editors: W V Good and S Ruit

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