Parental knowledge and attitude to children's eye care services
Background: The early years of life is very significant in the development of the eyes and vision, any disruption at this stage may lead to severe visual impairment or even blindness. Eye examination and treatment of children is not just a right of the child, but also a necessity to properly monitor and evaluate the eyes and visual structure. The responsibility to make decisions as regards eye care of a child lies on the parents or guardian.
Purpose: To find out parents knowledge and attitude towards eye examination and treatment for their children and the effect of demographic factors such as gender, age, educational status and number of children.
Method: A total of 468 parents including fathers and mothers (not necessarily couples) in Benin City participated in this cross-sectional observational study. A semistructured questionnaire seeking parents’ demographic characteristics, attitude towards eye examination and treatment, factors affecting the need for routine eye checkup for their children and parents’ knowledge about the eyes was used. The data was analyzed using SPSS. The test of significance was performed using Chi square and significance was taken at p < 0.05.
Results: Only gender affected parents’ attitude towards eye examination for their children (p=0.003). There were no significant associations between parents’ attitude to eye care and age, educational status and number of children for both fathers and mothers. Majority (60%of fathers and 66.7% of mothers) would seek eye examination for their children only when the child has an eye complain or eye problem. The belief that routine eye exam is not necessary was reported as the major barrier in seeking eye examination for their children (60% of fathers and 57% of mothers). Other barriers include funds, time, the use of traditional medicine, and distance to eye clinic. Over 65% of parents would allow their children use any eye treatment at any age as long as the doctor states the necessity. Although, few parents would restrict their children from the use of glasses, eye surgery and eye training until the child is 10 years. Fathers were significantly (p=0.008) better educated about the eyes than mothers although, less than 30% of respondents has had education about eye care. Less than 1% of respondents know that a child is old enough to have a comprehensive eye examination at 6 months.
Conclusion: Proper parent education and enlightenment strategies should be put in place by professional bodies and the government to make better parents attitude towards eye examination for the sake of an improved eye health for children.
Keywords: Parents, Eye examination, Eye treatment, Children