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Lillian Sun, Jawad Arshad, Lynn Daboul, LeAnne Young, Humberto Choi; Characterizing ocular needs and distribution of corrective lenses in two Peruvian communities. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2018;59(9):4106.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine organizes an annual medical mission trip that provides a free vision clinic to Chincha Alta (CA) and Sacred Valley (SV), two underserved Peruvian communities. This observational study aimed to characterize the ophthalmologic needs of these communities and evaluate the vision clinic’s effectiveness. Because SV patients live in predominantly agricultural communities at 2870m and CA patients live in an urban community at 420m, we hypothesized that SV patients would have greater ophthalmologic care needs.
We interviewed patients about their ocular symptoms and performed visual acuity exams and cataract assessments. Patients with refractive errors and no evidence of cataracts were given donated glasses. Some patients with both conditions received two pairs. An average of 98 adults and 11 children/day presented in CA and 13 adults and 12 children/day presented in SV, for a total of 545 adults and 107 children in ten days. Differences between the two sites were analyzed using a chi-squared analysis.
Many patients had never had their eyes examined (43% in CA and 68% in SV). The most common symptoms were itchy eyes (CA 77%, SV 69%, p=0.203), red eyes (CA 60%, SV 75%, p=0.031), and light sensitivity (CA 54%, SV 77%, p=0.001). Cataracts were suspected in 18.7% of CA patients and 11.3% of SV patients (p=0.190). 338 glasses were distributed in CA and 72 glasses in SV. The most common glasses prescription given was R +2.00, L +2.00. SV patients spent more time outside than CA patients (8.8 hours/day vs 4.9 hours/day, respectively). Although 75% of CA patients and 70% of SV patients knew the sun could cause eye problems, only 13% of CA patients and 32% of SV patients reported past sunglasses use.
Consistent with our hypothesis, there was more eye redness and light sensitivity in SV. Though SV patients spent more time outdoors at higher altitudes, there were fewer suspected cataracts in SV. Overall, our study revealed a lack of access to ophthalmologic care despite a high prevalence of ocular symptoms and refractive errors. We were able to begin to address this need by providing glasses to a majority of our patients. Our study also revealed low sunglasses use despite knowledge of UV damage. This suggests that more education, sun protection, and eyeglasses distribution are needed to address the ophthalmologic needs in these areas.
This is an abstract that was submitted for the 2018 ARVO Annual Meeting, held in Honolulu, Hawaii, April 29 - May 3, 2018.
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