Causes of childhood blindness in Ghana: results from a blind school survey in Upper West Region, Ghana, and review of the literature.
PURPOSE: Data on childhood blindness in Ghana are limited. The objectives of this study were to determine the major causes of childhood blindness and severe visual impairment (SVI) at Wa Methodist School for the Blind in Northern Ghana, and to compare our results to those published from other studies conducted in Ghana. METHODS: In this retrospective study, data from an eye screening at Wa Methodist School in November 2014 were coded according to the World Health Organization/Prevention of Blindness standardized reporting methodology. Causes of blindness/SVI were categorized anatomically and etiologically, and were compared to previously published studies. RESULTS: Of 190 students screened, the major anatomical causes of blindness/SVI were corneal scar/phthisis bulbi (CS/PB) (n = 28, 15%) and optic atrophy (n = 23, 12%). The major etiological causes of blindness/SVI were unknown (n = 114, 60%). Eighty-three (44%) students became blind before age one year. Of four published blind school surveys conducted in Ghana, CS/PB was the most common anatomical cause of childhood blindness. Over time, the prevalence of CS/PB within blind schools decreased in the north and increased in the south. Measles-associated visual loss decreased from 52% in 1987 to 10% in 2014 at Wa Methodist School. CONCLUSIONS: In a blind school in northern Ghana, CS/PB was the major anatomical cause of childhood blindness/SVI. While CS/PB has been the most common anatomical cause of childhood blindness reported in Ghana, there may be regional changes in its prevalence over time. Being able to identify regional differences may guide future public health strategies to target specific causes.
Huh, GJ; Simon, J; Grace Prakalapakorn, S
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