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Br J Ophthalmol. 2004 Apr;88(4):456-60.

The epidemiology of ocular trauma in rural Nepal.

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Nepal Nutrition Intervention Project-Sarlahi (NNIPS), Nepal Netra Jyoti Sangh, PO Box 335, Tripureswor, Kathmandu, Nepal.



To estimate the incidence of ocular injury in rural Nepal and identify details about these injuries that predict poor visual outcome.


Reports of ocular trauma were collected from 1995 through 2000 from patients presenting to the only eye care clinic in Sarlahi district, Nepal. Patients were given a standard free eye examination and interviewed about the context of their injury. Follow up examination was performed 2-4 months after the initial injury.


525 cases of incident ocular injury were reported, with a mean age of 28 years. Using census data, the incidence was 0.65 per 1000 males per year, and 0.38 per 1000 females per year. The most common types of injury were lacerating and blunt, with the majority occurring at home or in the fields. Upon presentation to the clinic, 26.4% of patients had a best corrected visual acuity worse than 20/60 in the injured eye, while 9.6% had visual acuity worse than 20/400. 82% were examined at follow up: 11.2% of patients had visual acuity worse than 20/60 and 4.6% had vision worse than 20/400. A poor visual outcome was associated with increased age, care sought at a site other than the eye clinic, and severe injury. 3% of patients were referred for further care at an eye hospital at the initial visit; 7% had sought additional care in the interim between visits, with this subset representing a more severe spectrum of injuries.


The detrimental effects of delayed care or care outside of the specialty eye clinic may reflect geographic or economic barriers to care. For optimal visual outcomes, patients who are injured in a rural setting should recognise the injury and seek early care at a specialty eye care facility. Findings from our study suggest that trained non-ophthalmologists may be able to clinically manage many eye injuries encountered in a rural setting in the "developing" world, reducing the demand for acute services of ophthalmologists in remote locations of this highly agricultural country.

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