Background: A review of pediatric cases seen over one year in the eye clinic of the University of Port Harcourt teaching hospital, Rivers state is presented.
Aim: To ascertain the different diagnoses made in children who attend the eye clinic and the most common with a view to establish guidelines for equipping a functional pediatric ophthalmic clinic to address the problems if any.
Methodology: Records of all patients aged 0-18 years who attended the clinic in the year 2004 were extracted from the outpatient register. The information was analyzed manually with a simple scientific calculator.
Results: Atotal number of 846 pediatric patients were seen in the one year period under review. Newly diagnosed patients were 671 in number. Male female ratio was 1:1.07. The largest number of patients seen was between the ages of 13-18 years (n = 320). Refractive error was the most common condition seen with 248 diagnosed with the condition and a percentage of(28.95%) of the total number of patients seen. Vernal conjunctivitis followed with a percentage of 17.96% (n=152). Sixty-two (7.33%) were diagnosed with iritis while 52 were diagnosed to have cataract (6.15%). Thirty-five had glaucoma as the primary diagnosis (4.14%) while 14 children presented with conjunctivitis (1.65%). Other patients had pterygium (n=9, 1.06%), chalazion (n=4, 0.47%) and corneal opacity (n=6, 0.71%). The patients with refractive error and vernal conjunctivitis were mainly girls 56.5% and 25% respectively. Glaucoma mainly affected boys (57.1%) Cataracts were mainly seen in girls (53.8%).
Conclusion: The commonest causes of childhood ocular morbidity in this study were refractive error and allergic conjunctivitis accounting for almost 50% of pediatric patients presenting at the ophthalmology clinic of UPTH. These require prompt pediatric ophthalmic consultation for effective treatment and prevention of avoidable sequelae. Therefore facilities need to be made available to adequately detect these conditions early particularly for refractive errors before amblyopia develops through training of teachers in all schools and public awareness campaigns. It may be important to ensure that legislation be passed to ensure compulsory eye checks before parents enroll their wards in school.