Objective: To assess the rapid assessment of cataract blindness and surgical services in age group 50 years and above.
Design: A cross-sectional survey.
Place and duration of study: This survey was conducted in District Lower Dir, Malakand Division, NWFP, Pakistan, from March 9-23, 2003.
Patients and methods: A community-based survey was carried out with systematic cluster random sampling. The survey was preceded by a pilot study in which the proforma and operational methods were field-tested and refined. One thousand, one hundred and fifty eligible adults of 50 years and older were selected by systematic random sampling from the whole lower Dir district of Malakand, Pakistan. A total of 1076 subjects (93.6%) were examined. The visual acuity of each eye was assessed using tumble Snellen's E Card method at 6 and 3 meters. Any subject having visual acuity <3/60 with or without obvious lens opacity or with aphakia (removal of lens) or pseudophakia (removal of cataract lens and implantation of artificial lens) was examined in detail. The surgical services were assessed by measuring the prevalence of pseudophakia, surgical outcome of visual acuity and also the effect of place of surgery on outcome.
Results: Prevalence of total bilateral blindness was 2.6%, and unilateral blindness 2.46%. Total prevalence of aphakia was 2.4%, which was almost equal in both sexes, male 2.3% and female 2.4%. Prevalence of unilateral aphakia was 0.3 % in females being slightly higher than males, 0.16 %. The prevalence of bilateral aphakia was 2.2% and 2% in males and females respectively. Prevalence of total pseudophakic eyes was 2.74%. Surgical outcome showed good, borderline and poor visual acuity of 40.5%, 22% and 14.3% respectively. Surgical outcome was also seemed to be better in private hospitals as compared to field camps.
Conclusion: It is concluded that to reduce the prevalence of blindness there was a need to improve the quality of services in mobile camps and fixed facilities. At the same time the visual outcome of surgery could be improved by expanding the number of Intraocular lens procedures and routine monitoring of cataract outcome.