Background: The objective of this article is to determine the prevalence and causes of blindness and low vision in Ozoro, a rural town of Delta State in Nigeria, in order to provide baseline information for planning a prevention of blindness programme.
Methods: A cross sectional study using a stratified random sampling method was used to select the compounds. The five communities in the town formed the different sub-groups or strata. Visual acuity were recorded for all adults 40 years and older. Persons who had visual acuity less than 6/18 were further examined to determine the cause of low vision or blindness. The WHO definition of visual impairment according to visual acuity was used as criteria for classification.
Results: A total of 815 persons (coverage of 51.7%) were examined using a modified WHO PBL record of blindness form. The prevalence of blindness (VA < 3/60 in the better eye) for people of 40 years and above was 6.3% (95% CI, 4.6% to 8%) and low vision VA 6/24 to 3/60 in the better eye was 25.2%. The estimated prevalence of bilateral blindness for all ages was 1.3% and low vision was 5%. The rate of blindness and low vision increased with age being highest in subjects who were 60 years and above. The main causes of blindness and low vision were cataract, accounting for 60% of all bilateral blindness and 51.7% of all low vision. Other causes of blindness include, posterior segment diseases (11.7%). Glaucoma was presumed to be cause of blindness in 9.8% of cases; others were uncorrected aphakia 5.9%, and globe abnormalities 5.9%. Refractive error was the second major cause of low vision accounting for 22% of bilateral low vision.
Conclusion: The magnitude of blindness and low vision in this oil rich Ozoro community in Delta State is high and majority are avoidable causes of blindness.