Original Research

Prevalence and causes of visual impairment among older persons living in low-income old age homes in Durban, South Africa

Khathutshelo P. Mashige, Serela S. Ramklass
African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine | Vol 12, No 1 | a2159 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/phcfm.v12i1.2159 | © 2020 Khathutshelo P. Mashige, Serela S. Ramklass | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 28 May 2019 | Published: 10 June 2020

About the author(s)

Khathutshelo P. Mashige, Department of Optometry, Faculty of Health Science, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Serela S. Ramklass, Department of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Health Science, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: Visual impairment (VI) increases with age and has been reported to be more prevalent among older adults living in old age homes than in the general population.

Aim: To determine the prevalence and causes of VI among older adults living in low-income old age homes in Durban, South Africa.

Setting: This study was conducted at low-income old age homes in Durban.

Methods: This cross-sectional study of 118 residents aged 60 years and older, collected socio-demographic data, presenting visual acuities (VAs) for each eye, and binocularly. Anterior segment eye examinations were conducted with a penlight torch and a portable slit-lamp, while posterior segment evaluation was conducted with direct and indirect ophthalmoscopy. Objective and subjective refractions were performed, and the best-corrected distance and near VAs were measured in each eye. VI was defined as presenting VA < 6/18 and included moderate VI (< 6/18−6/60), severe VI (< 6/60 –3/60) and blindness (< 6/120).

Results: The mean age of the participants was 73.3 years and included 80.5% females and 19.5% males. The prevalence of VI and blindness was 63.6%. Optical correction significantly reduced the prevalence of VI and blindness by 19.5% (p < 0.05). The main causes of non-refractive VI and blindness were cataract (54.5%), posterior segment disorders (25.5%) and corneal opacities (20%).

Conclusion: The prevalence of VI and blindness is high among residents in low-income old age homes living in Durban. Refractive correction and surgical cataract intervention can significantly reduce the burden of VI and blindness among the elderly residents.


Keywords

low-income old age home; prevalence; visual acuity; visual impairment; blindness; Durban

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