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Eur J Ophthalmol. 2008 Nov-Dec;18(6):1002-6.

Causes of blindness at Nkhoma Eye Hospital, Malawi.

Author information

1
Centre for Eye Research Australia, University of Melbourne, Department of Ophthalmology, Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital, Victoria - Australia. justincsherwin@gmail.com

Abstract

PURPOSE:

The majority of blindness in Sub-Saharan Africa is treatable. This hospital-based study was undertaken in order to investigate the etiology of blindness at Nkhoma Eye Hospital, Malawi.

METHODS:

One ophthalmologist examined 2082 consecutive new patients who presented to the outpatient department at Nkhoma Eye Hospital, Malawi in 2006. Data recorded included age, sex, visual acuity and diagnosis. Patients were classified as blind if their best corrected visual acuity was <3/60 in one eye (unilateral) or two eyes (bilateral).

RESULTS:

The most common diagnosis in new outpatients was cataract (52.8%), followed by glaucoma (8.1%), corneal pathology (7.2%), uveitis (4.5%) and maculopathy (3.2%). There were 742 (35.6%) patients with unilateral blindness and 331 (15.9%) patients with bilateral blindness. Unilateral blindness was present in 37.4% of males and 26.5% of females. The most common causes of unilateral blindness were lens pathology (57.8%), followed by glaucoma (12.1%), corneal pathology (10.0%) and uveitis (6.1%). Bilateral blindness was present in 12.5% of males and 16.8% of females respectively. The most common causes of bilateral blindness were lens pathology (54.4%), followed by glaucoma (19.9%), retinopathy (3.6%), maculopathy (3.6%), uveitis (3.6%) and corneal pathology (3.3%).

CONCLUSIONS:

Cataract is the most common cause of blindness in Nkhoma. Resultantly, cataract management is preferentially targeted in the Nkhoma VISION2020 Programme. Training of auxiliary eye personnel in cataract diagnosis and surgery may assist in this approach.

PMID:
18988176
DOI:
10.1177/112067210801800624
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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