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West African Journal of Medicine

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Visual Morbidities among Elderly Patients Presenting at a Primary Care Clinic in Nigeria

LA Adebusoye, ET Owoaje, MMA Ladipo, AO Adeniji

Abstract


Background: Visual challenges compromise mobility, increase dependency on family members and constitute a major health problem mainly seen by the primary care physicians among the elderly. However, there is little information on the pattern of visual problems of elderly patients attending the primary care clinics in Nigeria.
Objective: To describe the visual problems among elderly subjects in a hospital setting.
Methods: Five hundred consecutive patients (311 females and 189 males) aged 60 years and above were interviewed using a structured questionnaire based on the World Organization of Family Doctors (Wonca) format between September 2004 and April 2005. The main outcome measurements were sociodemographic characteristics, visual acuity and ocular problems.
Results: The main visual problems reported by the elderly were impaired vision 224 (44.8%) and abnormal sensations in the eyes 64 (12.8%). Cataract 198 (39.7%) was the commonest eye disorder diagnosed by the Family Physician, followed by pterygium 32 (6.4%). Assessment of binocular acuity revealed blindness in 109 (21.8%) and low-vision in 68 (13.6%). The prevalence of visual impairment increased significantly with age.
Conclusion: Visual impairment is a common problem of the elderly people in the hospital setting, with cataract being the main cause. Efforts should be made to detect these conditions early and institute treatment promptly.



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