July 2019
Volume 60, Issue 9
Open Access
ARVO Annual Meeting Abstract  |   July 2019
Prevalence and caretaker perception of childhood eye diseases in urban Tanzania
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Ariana Naaseh
    University of California, Irvine School of Medicine, California, United States
  • Kayla White
    University of California, Irvine School of Medicine, California, United States
  • Andreea Dinicu
    University of California, Irvine School of Medicine, California, United States
  • Danielle Zezoff
    University of California, Irvine School of Medicine, California, United States
  • Justine Chinn
    University of California, Irvine School of Medicine, California, United States
  • Ava Runge
    University of California, Irvine School of Medicine, California, United States
  • Alexa Lucas
    University of California, Irvine School of Medicine, California, United States
  • Kevin Bera
    University of California, Irvine School of Medicine, California, United States
  • Elizabeth Crawford
    University of California, Irvine School of Medicine, California, United States
  • Emma Cooper
    University of California, Irvine School of Medicine, California, United States
  • Justine Maher
    University of California, Irvine School of Medicine, California, United States
  • Chantal Boisvert
    Gavin Herbert Eye Institute, University of California, Irvine School of Medicine, California, United States
  • Footnotes
    Commercial Relationships   Ariana Naaseh, None; Kayla White, None; Andreea Dinicu, None; Danielle Zezoff, None; Justine Chinn, None; Ava Runge, None; Alexa Lucas, None; Kevin Bera, None; Elizabeth Crawford, None; Emma Cooper, None; Justine Maher, None; Chantal Boisvert, None
  • Footnotes
    Support  None
Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science July 2019, Vol.60, 3125. doi:
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      Ariana Naaseh, Kayla White, Andreea Dinicu, Danielle Zezoff, Justine Chinn, Ava Runge, Alexa Lucas, Kevin Bera, Elizabeth Crawford, Emma Cooper, Justine Maher, Chantal Boisvert; Prevalence and caretaker perception of childhood eye diseases in urban Tanzania. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2019;60(9):3125.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Abstract

Purpose : Recent assessments of childhood ocular morbidities in Tanzania are scarce. A prospective, cross sectional study was conducted to survey pediatric eye health along with caretaker perceptions of eye care in Mwanza, Tanzania during a free community vision screening.

Methods : In June 2018, 11 medical students from UCI School of Medicine conducted a 14 day vision screening in children ages 3 to 17 alongside Tanzanian optometrists at Buzuruga Health Center and Kiseke Church. Vision testing included: distance and near visual acuity, anterior segment inspection, red reflex visualization, stereoacuity, and autorefraction without cycloplegia. A written survey was administered to caretakers to assess numerous parameters including access to previous eye care and eye health literacy. Additionally, it asked caretakers to evaluate their child’s eye health and tested knowledge of common eye symptoms.

Results : 317 children were screened and 229 surveys were collected. 95.6% of caretakers believe children benefit from eye examinations; however, 88.6% report their child has not received an eye examination. When asked what barriers prevent seeking eye care, 53.7% cite costs and 22.0% cite lack of need. 98.2% of caretakers believe children can get diseases of the eye and 98.7% believe eye doctors can prevent future eye problems. Under 5% of caretakers are accurately able to rate squinting and head tilting as potential indicators of eye problems. Caretakers better assess that eye rubbing (50.1%), difficulty in school (11.8%), and headaches (23.2%) could indicate eye problems. According to caretakers, 64% of children screened show signs of eye irritation such as eye pain or discomfort, rubbing or itching eyes, and redness. During the vision screening, 18.9% of children had an abnormal anterior segment examination, and 65% of those children displayed symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis.

Conclusions : Caretakers in Tanzania understand the importance of childhood eye health and believe eye doctors are efficacious. Despite this, children in Mwanza are not receiving eye examinations. The majority of caretakers are not adept at recognizing symptoms of eye problems, signaling a need for education initiatives. Reform is needed to overcome limited financial access to care. Future studies are warranted to understand the characteristics of eye irritation in Tanzania and work to generate cost effective strategies to treat and screen children.

This abstract was presented at the 2019 ARVO Annual Meeting, held in Vancouver, Canada, April 28 - May 2, 2019.

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