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HF El-Sheikh, KF Tabbara; Childhood Blindness in Saudi Arabia . Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2002;43(13):3846.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Purpose: To determine the causes of childhood blindness in a tertiary facility in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Methods: We reviewed the charts of 5,217 children who presented in the period of August 1997 to August 2001 at The Eye Center, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Results: There were 372 patients (220 males and 152 females) with visual loss. The age range was five months to 18 years with a mean age of 10 years. There were 112 (2%) patients legally blind (less than 20/400), and 260 (5%) were visually impaired (20/400 to 20/60) according to WHO definition. The most common causes of bilateral blindness were optic nerve diseases (40%), retinal disorders (32%), cataract (8%). The most common causes of unilateral blindness included trauma (30%), retinal diseases (17%), errors of refraction (15%), and optic nerve diseases (9%). The most common causes of bilateral visual impairment were errors of refraction (16%), corneal diseases (16%), retinal disorders (12%), cataract (11%), and congenital nystagmus (11%). On the other hand, unilateral causes of visual impairment were errors of refraction, and strabismic amblyopia 47% and 17% respectively. Prevalence of consanguinity among affected children was 13%. The percentage of consanguinity among children with bilateral visual blindness was 21% and those with visual impairment was 27%. Conclusion: Genetically-determined disorders remain important causes of childhood blindness due to high prevalence of consanguinity among married couples in Saudi Arabia.
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