Causes of blindness in a special education school.

Abstract

BACKGROUND Blind children and young adults have to overcome a lifetime of emotional, social and economic difficulties. They employ non-vision dependent methods for education. OBJECTIVE To assess the causes of blindness in a special school in southwestern Nigeria to aid the development of efficient blindness prevention programmes. METHODS A cross-sectional survey of the Ekiti State Special Education School, Nigeria was conducted in May-June 2008 after approval from the Ministry of Education. All students in the blind section were examined for visual acuity, pen-torch eye examination and dilated fundoscopy in addition to taking biodata and history. RESULTS Thirty blind students with mean age of 18±7.3 years and male: female ratio of 1.7:1 were examined. Blindness resulted commonly from cataract eight (26.7%), glaucoma six (20%) retinitis pigmentosa four (16.7%) and posttraumatic phthysis bulbi two (6.7%). Blindness was avoidable in 18 (61%) of cases. Glaucoma blindness was associated with redness, pain, lacrimation and photophobia in 15 (50%) and hyphaema in 16.7% of students; none of these students were on any medication at the time of study. CONCLUSION The causes of blindness in rehabilitation school for the blind are largely avoidable and glaucoma-blind pupils face additional painful eye related morbidity during rehabilitation. While preventive measures and early intervention are needful against childhood cataract and glaucoma, regular ophthalmic consultations and medications are needed especially for glaucoma blind pupils.

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