Incidence and risk factors for traditional eye medicine use among patients at a tertiary eye hospital in Nigeria

Niger J Clin Pract. Oct-Dec 2011;14(4):405-7. doi: 10.4103/1119-3077.91744.


Objective: To determine the incidence and risk factors for traditional eye medicine use among patients at the Guinness Eye Center Onitsha, Nigeria.

Materials and methods: Consecutive new adult ophthalmic patients seen at the Guinness Eye Center Onitsha between January and April 2007 were interviewed on the use of traditional eye medicines and the type of traditional eye medicine used.

Results: Of the 500 patients interviewed, 66 (13.2%) had used traditional eye medicines (TEM). The 66 patients, aged 18-84, were made up of 32 males and 34 females. The commonly used TEM were liquid from plant leaves and roots and other concoctions of unknown origin. Conjunctivitis and cataract constituted 54.5% of the ocular problems; 15(22.7%) patients had visual impairment while 5(7.6%) other patients were blind. Risk factors for TEM use include age above 50 years (P<0.001); residence outside Onitsha metropolis (P<0.001) or ≥ 25 kilometres away from our hospital (P<0.02) and lack of any formal education (P<0.02). Decision to use TEM was not affected bygender (P>0.05); chronic nature (P>0.05) or painfulness of the ocular disease (P>0.05).

Conclusions: Traditional eye medicine is highly patronized by the people. Health education programmes with emphasis on safe eye care practices need be intensified in traditional healers and among the groups at risk.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Eye Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Eye Diseases / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Hospitals, Teaching
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Medicine, African Traditional*
  • Middle Aged
  • Nigeria / epidemiology
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Phytotherapy / adverse effects*
  • Phytotherapy / statistics & numerical data*
  • Plant Leaves
  • Plant Preparations / adverse effects
  • Plant Roots
  • Risk Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Young Adult


  • Plant Preparations