Pattern of childhood ocular morbidity in rural eye hospital, Central Ethiopia

BMC Ophthalmol. 2014 Apr 15:14:50. doi: 10.1186/1471-2415-14-50.


Background: This study was aimed to determine the pattern of childhood eye disorders in patients attending outpatient eye department of a rural eye hospital in central Ethiopia.

Methods: A cross-sectional survey of ocular morbidity among children less than 15 years of age who presented at a rural eye hospital in central Ethiopia between August - October 2012 was conducted. Demographic data, visual acuity, source and type of injury, type of refractive errors and diagnosis were collected and analyzed using SPSS. A p value less than 0.05 was considered statistically significant.

Result: A total of 735 children were examined in this study. The age range of the children varied from three months to 15 years of age. The mean (SD) age of the study population was 9.37 (4.95) years. 369 (50.2%) of the patients were females. The majority of cases were observed in older children (11-15 years) accounting for almost half of all the cases. The most common ocular morbidity encountered was conjunctivitis (35%), then ocular trauma (11.8%), refractive error (11.4%) and trachoma (7.6%). Bilateral visual impairment (UCVA < 6/18 in the better eye) was found in 119 children, and the causes were refractive errors (47.1%), keratitis/corneal opacity (16%), amblyopia (14.3%), ocular trauma (11.8%), cataract (6.3%), Glaucoma (2%) and uveitis (2%).

Conclusion: The three most common causes of childhood ocular morbidity in this study were conjunctivitis, ocular injuries and refractive errors. These disorders require attention of all the health professionals for proper management or early referral because they can lead to visual impairment and blindness. Health education is necessary for the prevention of childhood eye injuries, as well as early presentation of children to eye care centers for the treatment of eye disorders.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Distribution
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Ethiopia / epidemiology
  • Eye Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Eye Injuries / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Hospitals, Rural / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Refractive Errors / epidemiology
  • Sex Distribution
  • Vision Disorders / epidemiology