Prevalence and etiologies of visual handicaps in leprosy patients in the south of Cameroon
André Omgbwa Eballé1, Didier Owono2, Alphonse Um Book2, Assumpta Lucienne Bella2, Come Ebana Mvogo2, Nsom Mba3
1Faculty of Medicine and Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Douala, Douala, Cameroon; 2Faculty of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, University of Yaoundé I, Yaoundé, Cameroon; 3National Programme for Leprosy Control, Ministry of Public Health, Yaoundé, Cameroon
Abstract: We report on a prospective study undertaken in April 2008, in 11 leper villages of the Southern Cameroon. Our aim was to determine the prevalence and the causes of bilateral blindness, low vision and unilateral blindness in the population of leprosy patients, irrespective of the clinical aspects of the illness.
Results: Two hundred thirty-five known and newly diagnosed leprosy patients were examined. These patients included 149 cases (63.4%) of multibacillary leprosy and 86 cases (36.6%) of paucibacillary leprosy. There were 111 case of visual handicap, representing 47.2% of the population. These visual handicap cases were subdivided into 45 cases (19%) of bilateral blindness, 35 cases (15%) of unilateral blindness and 31 cases (13.2%) of low vision.
Discussion: The prevalence of visual handicap among leprosy patients in Cameroon is too high. Causes in the majority of cases are age-related degenerative pathologies, and one third of cases are linked to the leprosy mycobacterium.
Conclusion: Discovering a cure for ophthalmic pathologies is important in order to provide a better quality of life for this particular population.
Keywords: leprosy, eye, blindness, Cameroon
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