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Year : 2010  |  Volume : 17  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 308-312

Assessment of interrelationship between poverty and blindness in Maiduguri, Nigeria

Department of Ophthalmology, University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital, Maiduguri

Correspondence Address:
D Y Ribadu
Department of Ophthalmology, University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital, Maiduguri

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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

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AIMS AND OBJECTIVE: To assess the possible role of poverty as a cause and a consequence of blindness among blind individuals in Maiduguri, Nigeria. PATIENTS AND METHODS: Eighty-five consenting blind individuals living within 4 wards of Maiduguri had ocular examination to determine the cause of their blindness with a view to determining the avoidable nature (preventable and/or curable, were adequate resources available) of their blindness. A semi-structured questionnaire which captured their demographic data, antecedents of blindness and interventions (medical and rehabilitative) sought, access to welfare support services was also administered. Socio-economic status of the respondents was explored through information sought on educational attainment, employment status, means of livelihood, possession of personal assets, and estimates of monthly income. RESULTS: Blindness from the main causes were avoidable as they were either curable (cataract 41, 48%) or preventable (xerophthalmia 20, 23.5%; glaucoma 12, 14.1%; and trachoma 5, 5.1%). Only 8.2% of the subjects were employed, majority (75.3%) roamed the streets begging; and 69% lived on less than a dollar a day. Over three-quarters had no access to any form of welfare support. Majority (70.6%) did not have any personal asset. More than two-thirds had no formal education and over three-quarters had no access to health services. CONCLUSIONS & RECOMMENDATION: The avoidable nature of blindness in 78 (90%) of the subjects implicates poverty as a causative factor. In turn, the subjects' subsequent existence in poverty and destitution appear directly related to their blindness. We recommend an effective and comprehensive eye care service, and an intensification of poverty-alleviation measures.

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