Objectives: To determine the prevalence and pattern of retinal diseases at the Guinness Eye Hospital, Onitsha, Nigeria.
Materials and methods: This was a prospective study. All new patients seen by the author at the outpatients clinic of the Guinness Eye Hospital, Onitsha, Nigeria were examined for evidence of retinal diseases, using the Snellen chart, tonometry, indirect ophthalmoscopy after full mydriasis, slit-lamp examination with a 78D non-contact fundus lens, fundus contact lens examination, and slit-lamp examination of the anterior segment. Ancillary tests performed, as applicable, included Mantoux, skin-snip, hemoglobin genotype, urinalysis, fasting blood sugar, oral glucose tolerance test, full blood count, platelet count, ESR, VDRL, and HIV tests.
Results: 8.1% of the patients had retinal diseases. The leading retinal diseases were age-related macular degeneration (ARMD), diabetic retinopathy, retinal vein occlusion, retinal tears/detachment, retinitis pigmentosa and retinochoroiditis with epiretinal membrane. ARMD, diabetic retinopathy, and retinitis pigmentosa often caused bilateral lesions. Bilateral blindness was present in 14% and bilateral visual impairment in 16%, with macular degeneration, retinitis pigmentosa and retinal vascular diseases as major causes.
Conclusions: Retinal diseases may be a significant cause of blindness and visual impairment in this part of Nigeria. Since most of the diseases are treatable with laser and vitrectomy techniques, it is recommended that these facilities be provided in all major eye hospitals in the area.