Prevalence of visual impairment among the destitute in Onitsha, Southern Nigeria
Visual impairment is a global problem. The World Health Organization (WHO) in 2017 estimated that 36 million people were blind and 217 million people had moderate or severe visual impairment. An untreated or undetected eye problem becomes a threat to the general health of the individual, particularly the health of those that lack the basic needs of life. Most blind people live in low‑income countries where increasing poverty perpetuates destitution. Aim: This study aimed at determining the prevalence of visual impairment among the destitute in Onitsha metropolis, which would provide a solid database for designing an effective eye care delivery system for them in the state. Subjects and Methods: This was a cross‑sectional study of 168 destitute individuals in Onitsha. The study was carried out between June and July 2011. Destitute clusters were randomly selected, and all of the eligible participants were interviewed. Presenting visual acuity (VA) at 6 m, refraction, and anterior and posterior segment evaluation were done. Data were analyzed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) version 16. Results: One hundred sixty‑eight destitute individuals—consisting of 93 males (55.4%) and 75 females (44.6%)—were studied, and the age range was 11–78 years with a median age of 45 years. One hundred twenty‑nine participants (76.8%) did not have any formal education, all were unemployed, and none had any personal assets or property. Fifty‑six participants (33.3%) had ocular disorder. The prevalence of blindness was 12.5% and that of visual impairment was 10.2%. The causes of blindness were glaucoma (6, 28.6%), cataract (5, 23.8%), corneal acuity (5, 23.8%), and empty socket from tumor nucleation and trauma (2, 9.5%). Conclusion: Ocular findings in all eyes of the destitute are similar to that in the eyes of normal individuals. Destitution is an offshoot of health, social, and economic frustration, and therefore requires a comprehensive approach.