Survey of childhood blindness and visual impairment in Botswana

Sudha Nallasamy, William V. Anninger, Graham E. Quinn, Brian Kroener, Nicola M. Zetola, Oathokwa Nkomazana

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations

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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1365-1370
Number of pages6
JournalBritish Journal of Ophthalmology
Volume95
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

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