Original Research

Towards the development of a uniform screening guideline: Current status of paediatric vision screening in Abia State, Nigeria

Uchenna C. Atowa, Samuel O. Wajuihian, Rekha Hansraj
African Vision and Eye Health | Vol 81, No 1 | a661 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/aveh.v81i1.661 | © 2022 Uchenna C. Atowa, Samuel O. Wajuihian, Rekha Hansraj | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 28 February 2021 | Published: 29 April 2022

About the author(s)

Uchenna C. Atowa, Department of Optometry, College of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Samuel O. Wajuihian, Department of Optometry, College of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Rekha Hansraj, Department of Optometry, College of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: Vision screening is an important component of any child eye health system. Availability of standardised and broad screening guidelines is important to its success because it will allow for uniform and full utilisation of services through the system.

Aim: This study aimed to evaluate the coverage, components, and referral criteria of the paediatric vision screening services in Abia State, Nigeria, towards the development of a uniform vision screening guideline.

Methods: Eighty-three registered optometrists practising in Abia State for at least one year prior to the commencement of the study were invited to participate. Self-administered questionnaires were distributed directly or via email to the optometrists. The questionnaire covered areas such as the participation of optometrists in paediatric vision screening, coverage of the screening programmes, screening tools and referral criteria.

Results: A response rate of 77.1% (64 participants) was recorded for the survey. Twenty-eight (43.8%) respondents offered more than one paediatric vision screening outside their practice in the last year before the survey. Among those respondents, 20 were from the private sector and 20 were based in urban cities. Only 10 respondents undertook more than four paediatric screening services within this period. Visual acuity measurement and ocular health assessment were the main components of the screening batteries of optometrists. While a child with any disease abnormality was referred for evaluation, the referral criteria for a full examination were inconsistent.

Conclusion: The existing paediatric screening programmes in Abia State are inadequate. Of the few conditions that are screened for, varied referral criteria for further examination are applied. It therefore appears that the current screening programmes are not meeting the visual needs of the paediatric population and suggests the need for a new strategy to improve vision screening provisions to children in Abia State.


Keywords

paediatrics; vision screening; screening coverage; test batteries; referral criteria; screening guidelines

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