Prevalence and causes of blindness and visual impairment in Muyuka: a rural health district in South West Province, Cameroon

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Abstract

Aim:

To estimate the prevalence and causes of blindness and visual impairment in the population aged 40 years and over in Muyuka, a rural district in the South West Province of Cameroon.

Methods:

A multistage cluster random sampling methodology was used to select 20 clusters of 100 people each. In each cluster households were randomly selected and all eligible people had their visual acuity (VA) measured by an ophthalmic nurse. Those with VA <6/18 were examined by an ophthalmologist.

Results:

1787 people were examined (response rate 89.3%). The prevalence of binocular blindness was 1.6% (95% CI: 0.8% to 2.4%), 2.2% (1.% to 3.1%) for binocular severe visual impairment, and 6.4% (5.0% to 7.8%) for binocular visual impairment. Cataract was the main cause of blindness (62.1%), severe visual impairment (65.0%), and visual impairment (40.0%). Refractive error was an important cause of severe visual impairment (15.0%) and visual impairment (22.5%). The cataract surgical coverage for people was 55% at the <3/60 level and 33% at the <6/60 level. 64.3% of eyes operated for cataract had poor visual outcome (presenting VA<6/60).

Conclusions:

Strategies should be developed to make cataract services affordable and accessible to the population in the rural areas. There is an urgent need to improve the outcome of cataract surgery. Refractive error services should be provided at the community level.

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