Epidemiology of eye injuries in rural Tanzania

Ophthalmic Epidemiol. 1999 Jun;6(2):85-94. doi: 10.1076/opep.


In the developing world, ocular trauma is an important cause of monocular blindness. However, little is known about the epidemiology of eye injuries in rural Africa. This study presents five- year data on hospitalized ocular injuries in a rural region in Tanzania. Data were collected from Mvumi Hospital, a tertiary hospital serving rural Dodoma, and the only hospital during this time period able to care for serious trauma. All in-patient charts from January 1, 1985 to December 31, 1989 were reviewed for cases of ocular trauma who presented within 30 days of injury. Data on demographics, cause of injury, visual acuity, and current diagnosis were abstracted. A total of 157 cases were recorded, of whom 69% were male. A third of the injuries occurred in those less than age 20. Injury with a stick was the most common cause, accounting for 67% of the cases. A third of the cases presented to the hospital 8 or more days after the injury, and most had poor visual acuity in the affected eye. In those age 20 or younger, 82% of females and 67% of males presented with visual acuity <3/60. Ruptured globe and uveitis were the most common diagnosis made at presentation. Preventive ophthalmology efforts in this area should focus on decreasing stick-related ocular injuries and improving rapid access to appropriate care when injuries occur.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Eye Diseases / epidemiology
  • Eye Diseases / etiology
  • Eye Injuries / complications
  • Eye Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Eye Injuries / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Rupture / epidemiology
  • Rural Population / statistics & numerical data*
  • Sex Distribution
  • Tanzania
  • Visual Acuity / physiology