Prevalence and causes of blindness at a tertiary hospital in Douala, Cameroon
André Omgbwa Eballé1,4, Côme Ebana Mvogo1,3, Godefroy Koki2, Nyouma Mounè3, Cyrille Teutu5, Augustin Ellong2,3, Assumpta Lucienne Bella2,4
1Faculty of Medicine and Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Douala, Douala, Cameroon; 2Faculty of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, University of Yaoundé I, Yaoundé, Cameroon; 3General Hospital of Douala, Ophthalmology Unit, Douala, Cameroon; 4Cameroon National Blindness Control Programme, Ministry of Public Health, Yaoundé, Cameroon; 5Higher Institute of Health Sciences, Mountain University, Banganté, Cameroon
Purpose: The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence and causes of bilateral and unilateral blindness in the town of Douala and its environs based on data from the ophthalmic unit of a tertiary hospital in Douala.
Methods: We conducted a retrospective epidemiological survey of consultations at the eye unit of the Douala General Hospital over the last 20 years (from January 1, 1990 to December 31, 2009).
Results: Out of the 1927 cases of blindness, 1000 were unilateral, corresponding to a hospital prevalence of 1.84% and 927 cases were bilateral, corresponding to a hospital prevalence of 1.71%. No statistically significant difference was noted between the two (P = 0.14). The leading causes of bilateral blindness were cataract (50.1%), glaucoma (19.7%), and diabetic retinopathy (7.8%) while the leading causes of unilateral blindness were cataract (40.4%), glaucoma (14.1%), and retinal detachment (9.1%). Cataract (51.2%), cortical blindness (16.3%), and congenital glaucoma (10%) were the leading causes of bilateral blindness in children aged less than 10 years.
Conclusion: Blindness remains a public health problem in the Douala region with a hospital prevalence which is relatively higher than the national estimate given by the National Blindness Control Program.
Keywords: bilateral blindness, unilateral blindness, prevalence, Douala, Cameroon
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