Avoidable visual impairment among elderly people in a Slum of Addis Ababa

  • Assegid Aga


Background: In developing countries major causes of visual impairment are known to be preventable, however there is no information about the situation in Ethiopia.
Objective: To identify the major avoidable causes of visual impairment in elderly people.
Methods: A survey was conducted between November and December 1997, in the slum of central Addis Ababa. Five hundred seventy one people above the age of 50 years underwent detailed eye examinations including visual acuity test and intra-ocular pressure measurements.
Results: About 9% were blind [visual acuity <3/60] and 18% had poor vision [visual acuity >3/60 but <6/18] and. The leading causes of blindness were cataract, 48%; glaucoma, 15.3%; trachoma 11.5%; post-operative aphakia 11.5%; and age-related maculopathy, 5.8%. These etiologies and refractive errors were responsible for 90% of low vision. Cataract, 48.3%; trachoma, 14.9%; presbyopia, 12.6%; Glaucoma, 8.9%; and external eye infections, 7.8%; were the five top causes of eye morbidity.
Conclusions: Most of (86%) the blindness in the elderly was due to avoidable causes. Intervention programs targeting cataract, glaucoma and trachoma may significantly decrease the burden of visual impairment in elderly people.

(Ethiopian Journal of Health Development, 2001, 15(2): 139-144)

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