Original Research

Prevalence and determinants of visual impairment amongst school-aged children in Southern Nigeria

Bernadine N. Ekpenyong, Kovin Naidoo, Antor Ndep, Margaret Akpan, Ekanem Ekanem
African Vision and Eye Health | Vol 79, No 1 | a534 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/aveh.v79i1.534 | © 2020 Bernadine N. Ekpenyong, Kovin Naidoo, Antor Ndep, Margaret Akpan, Ekanem Ekanem | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 09 September 2019 | Published: 23 April 2020

About the author(s)

Bernadine N. Ekpenyong, Department of Public Health, University of Calabar, Calabar, Nigeria
Kovin Naidoo, Department of Optometry, African Vision Research Institute, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa; and, Department of Optometry, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
Antor Ndep, Department of Public Health, University of Calabar, Calabar, Nigeria
Margaret Akpan, Department of Public Health, University of Calabar, Calabar, Nigeria
Ekanem Ekanem, Department of Community Health and Primary Care, College of Medicine, University of Lagos, Lagos, Nigeria


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Abstract

Background: Visual impairment among school children is relatively common and research provides evidence for integration of comprehensive eye care into school health programmes.

Aim: To determine the prevalence and determinants of visual impairment in school-aged children in Southern Nigeria.

Setting: School aged children from 10 public and private-owned schools in Cross River State, Southern Nigeria.

Methods: This cross-sectional analytic study used a multistage random sampling technique to select 2418 school children aged 6–17 years. Comprehensive eye examinations were performed on the study. The logistic regression analysis with 95% confidence interval (CI) was used to test hypotheses.

Results: Of the 2418 school children selected, 2110 (87%) were assessed. The prevalence ‘of uncorrected, presenting and best corrected visual acuity of 0.3 (20/40) or worse in the better eye’ was 7.3%, 7.2% and 0.19%, respectively. Errors of refraction were the cause of the impairment in 198 (70.7%; 63.5–76.0) eyes with reduced vision, followed by glaucoma suspects 38 (19.2%; 13.8–24.8), amblyopia (3.0%; 1.1–6.4) and corneal opacity 3 (1.5%; 0.3–4.3). The major and independent predictors of visual impairment were age (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] 1.97, 95% 1.45–2.67), high socio-economic status (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] 1.68, 95% 1.36–2.09) and female gender (AOR 1.35, 95% 1.00–1.88).

Conclusion: The common causes of visual impairment in school-aged children are avoidable, and are mostly because of uncorrected refractive error, which could reflect inadequate refractive error services in the area.


Keywords

school-aged children; prevalence; refractive error; visual impairment.

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