Abnormalities of the eye or ocular anomalies such as allergic conjunctivitis (inflammation of the conjunctiva) can start very early in life. Early detection of the common eye disorders among children can help in developing specific health strategies and interventions for primary prevention and treatment of visual impairment.
A recent study in the Ashaiman Municipal Assembly of the Greater Accra region has found that 27.3% of 811 primary school pupils suffer from eye disorders.
The study, published in the Optometry and Vision Science journal, carried out visual acuity and external examinations of each pupil as well as anterior and posterior segment examination, and objective and subjective refraction. The researchers also captured any eye problems reported by the pupils.
The study found that “allergic conjunctivitis (17.3%) and refractive errors (6.8%) were the main causes of ocular anomalies.” “Others include pinguecula (1.2%), pterygia (0.9%), infectious conjunctivitis (0.3%), corneal opacity (0.1%), lens opacity (0.1%), and retinal degeneration (0.1%).”
The paper reported that “only 11.8% of schoolchildren with ocular anomalies had been treated for their ocular problems before the study.”
Detection and treatment of eye disorders in their early stages can prevent complete vision loss. The findings of this study reveals the urgent need for the Ghana Health Service, in collaboration with the Ghana Education Service and other stakeholders, to develop and implement practical health intervention policies for prevention and treatment of eye problems among schoolchildren. Such interventions should include integration of health talks/seminars/workshops in the school curriculum, regular eye screening exercises and establishment of school – eye care centre partnerships.
Authors of the study were Nartey, ET of the PhD African Vision Research Institute, Durban, South Africa; van Staden, DB of the Discipline of Optometry, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa; and Amedo, AO of the Department of Optometry and Visual Science, KNUST, Kumasi, Ghana.
Digital reporter: Aaron Amankwaa, Editor