East African Medical Journal

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Retinitis pigmentosa in Benin, Nigeria

CU Ukponmwan, A Atamah


Objectives: To determine the mode of presentation and degree of visual impairment of retinitis pigmentosa in Nigerians.

Design: A prospective, non-comparative study.

Setting: University of Benin Teaching Hospital, Benin City, Nigeria.

Subjects: Thirty Nigerian patients with a diagnosis of retinitis pigmentosa who presented at the Eye Clinic of the Ophthalmology Department of the University of Benin, Teaching Hospital, Benin City, Nigeria over a three year period (July 1997-June 2000) were included in the study. The clinical features and mode of presentation were noted. The examination included visual acuity, slit lamp examination and fundoscopy.

Main outcome measures: Presenting symptoms and signs, visual acuity.

Results: The degree of visual impairment and clinical features in thirty Nigerians with retinitis pigmentosa seen at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital, Benin City, Nigeria were studied. There were twenty males and ten females. The age range was 14 to 71 years (mean 36.7 years ± 14.8 years). Fifteen patients (50%) had visual acuity of less than 3/60 while only seven (23.3%) had visual acuity of 6/12 or better. The commonest mode of presentation was poor vision in 90% of the patients followed by night blindness in 56.7%. Others were headaches, flashes of light and floaters.

Conclusion: The degree of visual loss in Nigerians with retinitis pigmentosa is severe and may be related to the long duration of the disease and age of the patients at presentation. Health education of the public and patients about the need for early presentation to hospital and the use of vitamin A and carbonic anhydrase inhibitors are recommended.

East African Medical Journal Vol. 81 No. 5 May 2004: 254-257
AJOL African Journals Online