Amblyopia in rural Nigerian school children
Purpose: Globally, amblyopia remains a common cause of visual impairment in children. Early screening and treatment is necessary to prevent permanent visual loss. This study aimed to evaluate the prevalence, etiologic factors, and characteristics of amblyopia among rural, public primary school children in Ijebu East Local Government Area (IELGA) of Ogun state, southwest Nigeria.
Materials and Methods: The study was a cross-sectional descriptive study conducted among pupils of randomly selected public primary schools in IELGA from 27th October to 7th November 2014. Data on sociodemographics, ocular history, and ocular examination were collected. Descriptive and comparative analyses were performed. Values of P 0.05 were considered statistically significant.
Results: There were 1180 public primary school pupils enrolled for the study. The data of 1153 pupils were analyzed giving a 97.7% response rate. The mean age was 9.2 ± 2.8 years with age range from 4 years to 16 years. There were more female students (586; 50.8%) with a male-to-female ratio of 1:1.03. Majority of the pupils were from the Yoruba ethnic group (819; 71.0%) and from basic one academic class (236; 20.5%). Six of the examined pupils were found to have amblyopia, giving a prevalence of 0.5%. The following three types of amblyopia were seen in this study: anisometric amblyopia (2; 0.17%), ametropic amblyopia (2; 0.17%), and strabismic amblyopia (2; 0.17%). Three pupils had unilateral amblyopia while three had bilateral amblyopia. All amblyopias were classified as mild-to-moderate amblyopia.
Conclusion: The prevalence of amblyopia among these rural school children was low. However, because children with amblyopia could have a lifetime of blindness ahead of them, the number of “blind person years” in those whose blindness started in childhood is enormous. Early screening is required to prevent the attendant consequences of socioeconomic burden following visual impairment in this vulnerable subsection of the Nigerian rural populace.
Keywords: Amblyopia, children, nigeria, rural, visual impairment