Prevention of Childhood Blindness through the Integration with Maternal Eye Care Programmes
Objective: The prevention of childhood blindness through the provision of preventive services at the community level, specialized surgical services in ophthalmic units and the provision of devices to correct low and services to children with established visual loss. Materials and methods: A series of free surgical cataract eye camps which focused on only women were conducted throughout Delta State in which children with eye problems were incidentally identified and treated. Of the 4239 women seen, 1006 (24%) brought their children along with them. Out of the 1006 children that accompanied their mothers, 840 (83%) of the children were seen based on their the request of their mothers for their ocular examination. Of these children, 28 (3%) had ocular morbidity. There were 19 boys and 9 girls. The majority of the children were between 2 to 5 years of age. The commonest causes of ocular morbidity were congenital and developmental cataract (24%), vernal conjunctivitis (28%), congenital glaucoma (14%) and corneal opacity from measles, harmful traditional eye practises and severe vernal keratoconjunctivitis. Others were refractive error, strabismus and optic atrophy. Results: A total of 10 children underwent surgery. Surgical procedures included 4 lensectomy and 3 lensectomy with intraocular lens implantation, 2 trabeculectomy and 1 optical iridectomy. One patient was given spectacles for juvenile onset myopia. Conclusion: there is a potential for a female gender focused eye programme, to promote child eye health and prevent childhood blindness.
Key words: childhood blindness; community; cataract; glaucoma