Leprosy and the eye a review of epidemiology, pathogenesis, ocular complications and treatment

  • C E Ogbonnaya Department of Ophthalmology, Ebonyi State University Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki
  • L U Ogbonnaya Department of Ophthalmology, Ebonyi State University Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki
  • C M Chuka-Okosa University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Enugu
Keywords: leprosy, ocular complications


Objectives: 1. To update knowledge on the current trends in the epidemiology, pathogenesis, and treatment of leprosy
2. To highlight the ocular complications associated with leprosy
Methodology:Current literature on various aspects of leprosy research obtained from the Internet and supplemented by available journals were reviewed. Findings relevant to our objectives were extracted.
Results:The prevalence of leprosy has reduced from the estimated 10-12 million (with 5.4 million registered) worldwide in the 1980s to about 0.75 million registered patients by 2002. However, the incidence increased from 550,000 by 1985 to approx. 700,000 by 2002. Many cured leprosy patients are living with disability, including ocular disability. Many of these are potentially sight threatening. Already, about 350, 000 to 400, 000 leprosy patients are estimated to be blind worldwide.
Conclusion: Though the prevalence of leprosy is reducing, its incidence is increasing. Many cured leprosy patients are, however, living with ocular complications that could lead to blindness. Most of these blinding complications could be prevented with early diagnosis and prompt treatment.
Recommendations: 1. Every health worker, particularly ophthalmologists, should be familiar with the ocular complications of leprosy. 2. Periodic screening and surgical outreach programmes by ophthalmologists should be integrated into leprosy care programmes with a view to treating avoidable causes of blindness, especially cataract, uveitis, and lagophthalmos. 3. Funding for research on leprosy and health care delivery for leprosy should be sustained because available data show that leprosy is still a cause for concern.

Key words: leprosy, ocular complications

Nigerian Journal of Ophthamology Vol 12(2) 2004: 38-45

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2468-8363
print ISSN: 0189-9171