Document Type

Journal Article

Date of this Version

10-2011

Publication Source

British Journal of Ophthalmology

Volume

95

Issue

10

Start Page

1365

Last Page

1370

DOI

10.1136/bjo.2010.189068

Abstract

Background/aims

In terms of blind-person years, the worldwide burden of childhood blindness is second only to cataracts. In many developing countries, 30–72% of childhood blindness is avoidable. The authors conducted this study to determine the causes of childhood blindness and visual impairment (VI) in Botswana, a middle-income country with limited access to ophthalmic care.

Methods

This study was conducted over 4 weeks in eight cities and villages in Botswana. Children were recruited through a radio advertisement and local outreach programmes. Those ≤15 years of age with visual acuity <6/18 in either eye were enrolled. The WHO/Prevention of Blindness Eye Examination Record for Children with Blindness and Low Vision was used to record data.

Results

The authors enrolled 241 children, 79 with unilateral and 162 with bilateral VI. Of unilateral cases, 89% were avoidable: 23% preventable (83% trauma-related) and 66% treatable (40% refractive error and 31% amblyopia). Of bilateral cases, 63% were avoidable: 5% preventable and 58% treatable (33% refractive error and 31% congenital cataracts).

Conclusion

Refractive error, which is easily correctable with glasses, is the most common cause of bilateral VI, with cataracts a close second. A nationwide intervention is currently being planned to reduce the burden of avoidable childhood VI in Botswana.

Copyright/Permission Statement

This article has been accepted for publication in Br J Ophthalmol following peer review. The definitive copyedited, typeset version is available online at: http://bjo.bmj.com/content/95/10/1365

Keywords

blind, blindness, visual impairment, Bostswana, Africa

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Date Posted: 13 November 2014

This document has been peer reviewed.