Visual Impairment and Blindness in 5 Communities in IMO State, South East Nigeria
Background: The burden of avoidable blindness in Nigeria and in Sub-Saharan Africa is huge. The socioeconomic implications in the face of the present economic crisis cannot be overlooked. Recent estimates in Sub-Saharan Africa showed that 21.4 million people are visually impaired with 4.8 million of these blind. Approximately 80% of these are preventable or curable through the delivery of cost-effective eye care services. Aim: This study aims to determine the burden of visual impairment and blindness in Imo State with a view to make recommendations to the Ministry of Health for effective intervention and distribution of the available resources using the vision 2020 targets. Subjects and Method: This was a retrospective review of data generated during the free eye screening organized in 5 communities in Imo State, Nigeria by Federal Medical Centre, Owerri, Imo State, Nigeria. Results: Two hundred and fifty respondents with a male to female ratio of 1: 1.36 participated in the free eye screening outreach. The 41-60 years age group was highly represented at 42.8% (107/250). Approximately 39% (98/250) were visually impaired and 6.4% (16/250) were blind. In descending order, the 3 most common causes of visual impairment and blindness were cataract, glaucoma and uncorrected refractive error. Living in the rural area was significantly associated with higher degrees of visual impairment and blindness.
Conclusion: The prevalence of visual impairment and blindness in Imo State is significant and the most common causes are avoidable and treatable. The Health authorities in collaboration with Eye Care personnel have a lot to do to eliminate avoidable blindness.
Keywords: Visual impairment, Blindness, Burden, Outreach, Vision 2020