A Situational Report on Low Vision Services in Tertiary Hospitals in South‑East Nigeria
Background: The prevalence of functional low vision in southeast Nigeria is reportedly the highest in the country.
Aim: This study evaluated the state of low vision services and perceptions of providers and users of the service in tertiary hospitals in the region, to facilitate advocacy and planning.
Methods: This was a cross‑sectional survey of available low vision services in the nine tertiary hospitals in Southeast Nigeria utilizing mixed methods. Data were collected on human resources, service delivery, and low vision equipment and devices. In‑depth interviews were conducted to determine the perceptions of providers and users of the service.
Results: Varying levels of low vision services were actively provided in three of the nine hospitals surveyed. Services, equipment, and devices were
suboptimally available. The three functional centers had a combined output of 61 patients seen within 6 months preceding the study and had at most two‑thirds of required equipment. Low vision devices (LVDs) were available in varying degrees in only four (44%) of the hospitals. Twenty‑one (7.6%) of the 278 eye care personnel had some low vision training across seven hospitals. The challenges highlighted by providers were mainly inadequate funding (infrastructure, training, and equipment), communication gaps, and bureaucracy. Poor awareness, affordability, acceptability,
and accessibility of LVDs were major constraints for users.
Conclusion: Low vision services are available in some tertiary facilities in southeast Nigeria. Improved funding and better awareness of the availability of low vision services by eye care providers and the general public are needed to strengthen services.
Keywords: Challenges, low vision, low vision services, perceptions, southeast Nigeria