Review of the publications of the Nigeria national blindness survey: methodology, prevalence, causes of blindness and visual impairment and outcome of cataract surgery

Ann Afr Med. 2012 Jul-Sep;11(3):125-30. doi: 10.4103/1596-3519.96859.


This is a review of the major publications from the Nigeria national blindness survey in order to highlight major findings and challenges of eye care in Nigeria. The review summarizes methodology and key findings. Survey publications on methodology, prevalence and causes of visual impairment and outcome of cataract surgery were retrieved, reviewed and relevant data extracted, reported and discussed. The study was the largest and more detailed eye survey in Nigeria (15,375 people 40 years and older recruited). Participants had detailed eye examination including visual acuity, autorefractokeratometry, A- scan biometry, visual field and basic eye examination. Cause(s) of visual impairment in each eye using WHO algorithm was determined among participants with vision < 6/12. Some of the participants also had qualitative questions on barriers to uptake of services, quality of life and visual function. Major highlights of the results as contained in the publications include a high prevalence of blindness with 4.2% (95% CI: 3.8-4.6%;),of the study population having blindness (using presenting vision (PVA)) even with best correction the prevalence was 3.4% (95% CI: 3.0-3.8%. The prevalence of SVI using PVA was 1.5% (95% CI: 1.3-1.7%).and with best correction 0.8% (95% CI: 0.7-1.0%). Blindness varied by age groups, sex, literacy level and geopolitical zone. Furthermore, 84% of blindness was due to avoidable causes with cataract responsible for 43% of blindness, glaucoma 16.7%, uncorrected aphakia 8.4% and corneal opacity 7.9%. Of the total 538 eyes that had cataract surgery procedures, 42.7% had couching and the remaining had cataract surgery, but only 41.4% of cataract operated eyes had IOL surgery. Outcome of cataract surgery was good at presentation for only 30.8% of eyes (84 eyes) which improved to 56.8% with correction. The possible remedy for the high burden of needless blindness and harmful eye health practices in Nigeria are discussed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Blindness* / diagnosis
  • Blindness* / epidemiology
  • Blindness* / etiology
  • Cataract / epidemiology
  • Cataract Extraction / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nigeria / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Sex Distribution
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vision, Low* / diagnosis
  • Vision, Low* / epidemiology
  • Vision, Low* / etiology
  • Visual Acuity