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Middle East African Journal of Ophthalmology Middle East African Journal of Ophthalmology
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Year : 2008  |  Volume : 15  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 73-76 Table of Contents     

Ocular disorders in adult patients with tuberculosis in a tertiary care hospital in Nigeria

Department of Medicine, University of Benin Teaching Hospital, Benin City, Nigeria

Date of Web Publication13-Jul-2009

Correspondence Address:
A E Omoti
Department Of Opthalmology, University Of Benin Teaching Hospital, P.M.B. 1111, Benin City
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0974-9233.51996

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Objectives: To determine the ocular disorders in adult tuberculosis (TB) patients in Benin City, Nigeria.
Methods: A prospective study of adult TB patients presenting at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital, Benin City, Nigeria, between March 2006 and October 2006 was undertaken. The patients were interviewed and examined by the authors and the ocular findings recorded.
Results: There were 92 patients (45 males and 47 females) with mean age 37.9 years (SDą15.6). Only one (1.1 percent) was HIV positive. Among the ocular findings in patients with TB, 8 patients had monocular blindness that included cataracts in 3 (37.5 percent), glaucoma in 2 (25 percent), optic atrophy, retinal vasculitis and maculopathy accounting for one case each (12.5 percent). Ocular disorders due to TB occurred in 9 patients (9.8 percent). These include cataract in 2 cases (2.2 percent), phlyctenular conjunctivitis in 2 cases (2.2 percent), glaucoma, anterior uveitis, chorioretinitis, retinal vasculitis, maculopathy, and optic atrophy each occurring in 1 case (1.1 percent).
Conclusion: Tuberculosis is a cause of ocular morbidity, visual impairment and blindness. Prevention, early diagnosis and early treatment of TB may prevent avoidable visual loss.

Keywords: ocular, visual loss, tuberculosis, adult, uveitis, Nigeria

How to cite this article:
Egbagbe E E, Omoti A E. Ocular disorders in adult patients with tuberculosis in a tertiary care hospital in Nigeria. Middle East Afr J Ophthalmol 2008;15:73-6

How to cite this URL:
Egbagbe E E, Omoti A E. Ocular disorders in adult patients with tuberculosis in a tertiary care hospital in Nigeria. Middle East Afr J Ophthalmol [serial online] 2008 [cited 2020 Aug 12];15:73-6. Available from: http://www.meajo.org/text.asp?2008/15/2/73/51996

Tuberculosis (TB) is regarded as one of the oldest diseases in the world. It is a chronic infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which is a member of a group of closely related organisms in the M. tuberculosis complex (Mycobaclorium africanum, Mycobacterium bovis, Mycobacterium mictroti and Mycobacterium tuberculosis). [1] Worldwide, there are approximately 8-10 million new cases of TB every year, 95 percent in developing countries. [2] Nearly 3 million people die from TB each year; 98 percent of infection-related deaths occurring in the developing world. [2]

Ocular TB involving any of the tissues of the eye is uncommon. [3] Dutt et al [4] reported ophthalmic involvement in only 3 of 402 sites of extrapulmonary TB. Donahue [5] reported that 1.4 percent of more than 10,000 patients in one sanatorium were treated for ocular TB between 1940 and 1966. In Nigeria, Ayanru [6] reported that only one case out of 1987 cases of uveitis was due to tuberculosis. Tuberculosis accounted for less than 1 percent of uveitis in another study in Los Angeles. [7] Donahue [5] found only 6 cases of phlyctenular conjunctivitis in 10,524 patients with TB.

The impact of the AIDS epidemic on rates of ocular tuberculosis remains unclear. With the recent increase in incidence of TB in both the general population and AIDS patients, ocular manifestations of TB once thought to be rare may be increasing. [8]

This study was designed to identify ocular disorders in adult TB patients attending the consultant outpatient clinic at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital, Benin City, Nigeria.

   Materials and Methods Top

Adult tuberculosis patients attending the consultant outpatient medical clinic of the University of Benin Teaching Hospital - a tertiary care center in Benin City, Nigeria, between March and October 2006 were interviewed by the authors using a standard questionnaire and were examined in the eye clinic.

The visual acuity was determined using the standard illuminated Snellen's chart or illiterate E chart held at 6 meters from the patient. When the patient could not read the chart, the ability to count fingers at varying distances, to perceive hand movements or light was determined and recorded. The eyes were examined using a pentorch, Haag Streit slitlamp biomicroscope and the direct ophthalmoscope. The intraocular pressures were measured by using the Goldmann applanation tonometer mounted on the Haag Streit slitlamp. Indirect ophthalmoscopy was performed when there was evidence or suspicion of retinal lesions.

All patients were diagnosed as having TB based on results of chest radiograph, sputum examination (presence of acid fast bacilli on 3 samples) and in cases of extrapulmonary tuberculosis, histological findings suggestive of tuberculosis. All the patients were screened for HIV using ELISA technique and positive cases were confirmed using the Western blot technique.

   Results Top

Ninety-two patients (45 males and 47 females) were seen during the period of study. The age and sex distribution of the patients is shown in [Table 1]. The mean age was 37.9 years (SDą15.6).

Fourteen patients (15.2 percent) were illiterates, 15 patients (16.3 percent) had primary education, 36 patients (39.1 percent) had secondary education and 27 patients (29.3 percent) had tertiary education. The occupation of the patients was classified according to a modified form of the British Registrar Generals classification. [9] There were 3 patients (3.3 percent) in the higher professions, who were all engineers. Six patients (6.5 percent) were in the other professions such as teachers and shopkeepers. There were 25 skilled workers (27.2 percent) such as clerks, electricians and drivers. There were 14 semiskilled workers (15.2 percent) such as machine operators and 12 unskilled workers (13 percent) such as farmers and laborers. Among others, there were 29 students (31.5 percent) and 3 unemployed (3.3 percent).

Forty-eight patients (52.1 percent) had been newly diagnosed with TB, 41 patients (44.6 percent) had TB for 5 years or less, 2 (2.2 percent) for 6 to 10 years and one patient (1.1 percent) for more than 10 years.

The presenting ocular complaints of patients with tuberculosis are shown in [Table 2]. Of those with ocular symptoms, 4 patients (16.7 percent) had ocular symptoms for less than one month, 5 (20.8 percent) for one to six months, 5 (20.8 percent) for 7 to 12 months, 7 (29.2 percent) for between 1 year and 5 years, and 3 patients (12.5 percent) had ocular symptoms for more than 5 years. Only one patient was positive for HIV-1. The 48 newly diagnosed patients (52.2 percent) had not been treated with antituberculosis drugs at the time of their ocular examination while the remaining 44 patients (47.8 percent) had been on antituberculosis regimen comprising rifampicin, ethambutol, isoniazid and pyrazinamide.

Sixty-five patients (70.7 percent) had visual acuity of 6/5 - 6/6, 19 patients (20.6 percent) had visual acuity of 6/9 - 6/12 while 8 patients (8.7 percent) had best corrected vision of 6/18 - 6/24. Monocular blindness (inability to count fingers at 3 meters in the eye) occurred in 8 patients (8.7 percent). It was due to cataract in 3 cases (37.5 percent), glaucoma in 2 cases (25 percent), optic atrophy in one case (12.5 percent), retinal vasculitis in one case (12.5 percent) and maculopathy in one case (12.5 percent).

The intraocular pressures ranged from 8mmHg to 36mmHg. The mean intraocular pressure was 15.3mmHg (SDą4.6mmHg). Only 7 eyes in 4 patients had initial intraocular pressures greater than 21mmHg. All the ocular disorders seen in patients are shown in [Table 3]. The ocular disorders due to tuberculosis are shown in [Table 4]. These disorders occurred in 9 patients (9.8 percent). The case of maculopathy occurred in the same patient with the retinal vasculitis.

   Discussion Top

Tuberculosis can affect practically any structure of the eye and adnexae. [1] Ocular manifestations in TB may be attributed to either infection or non-infectious immunologic reactions. Haematogenous dissemination may result in involvement of the uvea because of its greater vascularity while immunological reactions to tuberculoprotein may cause phlyctenulosis, interstitial keratitis and retinal vasculitis. [1]

There was no sex predilection in the patients seen in this study and the majority of them were in the lower socioeconomic classes or students. The high proportion of students may be related to the close proximity of several tertiary institutions to the University of Benin Teaching Hospital where the study was conducted.

Over half of the patients were newly diagnosed with TB and were not on any therapy at the time of eye examination. The majority of the patients did not complain of any ocular symptoms. This is in agreement with other studies which show that ocular involvement in TB is uncommon. [3],[4],[5],[6],[7] The majority of the ocular complaints in this study were unrelated to TB. An unexpected finding was the very low incidence of HIV seropositivity in this study. This may be because patients with an initial diagnosis of having HIV/AIDS, attend a special clinic in this hospital and not the general medical clinics in which this study was carried out.

The majority of patients had good vision in the better eye. None of the patients was blind but monocular blindness occurred in 8 patients (8.7 percent). They were due mainly to cataract and glaucoma and to a lesser extent, optic atrophy, retinal vasculitis and maculopathy. Several of these may be related to TB. Some cases of cataract may be age related, secondary to TB, anterior uveitis [1] or due to other causes. Glaucoma may also be secondary to chronic anterior uveitis due to TB. [1] Optic atrophy may occur due to tuberculosis, antituberculosis drugs [10] or other causes. In TB, the optic nerve may be affected directly, as part of tuberculous posterior uveitis or through direct infiltration as part of a tuberculous meningitis. [1] Retinal vasculitis in this study occurred in the left eye of a 29 year old student with testicular TB. It was associated with choroidal folds and macular edema. Possible causes of retinal vasculitis in patients with TB include haematogenous dissemination of infection, inflammation from adjacent chorioretinal lesions or hypersensitivity reactions. [1],[11] The type of maculopathy seen in this case was cystoid macula edema. Cystoid macular edema has been reported as one of the presentations of tubercular uveitis. [12] Cystoid macular edema has also been reported as the only ocular finding in TB. [13]

The most common ocular disorders seen in the TB patients were cataract, refractive error, pterygium, glaucoma, presbyopia, maculopathy and allergic conjunctivitis. This is different from findings in hospital based studies in the same institution, [14] and other parts of Nigeria, [15] where refractive errors are reported to be by far the most common ocular disorders. Allergic conjunctivitis is also reported to be much more common than glaucoma and maculopathy in contrast to the finding in this study. [14],[15] Population based studies in the immediate vicinity of the hospital [16] and elsewhere in Nigeria [17] also show that refractive errors are the most common ocular disorders. These differences may be due to the effect of TB in the eyes. Tuberculosis causes chronic uveitis which may be complicated by cataract, glaucoma and cystoid macula oedema. [1],[12],[13] This may have contributed to the relatively higher frequencies of these conditions in tuberculosis patients in this study. The other conditions which may have been due primarily to TB include phlyctenular conjunctivitis, chronic anterior uveitis, multifocal chorioretinitis, optic atrophy and retinal vasculitis. These conditions could be caused either by direct infiltration or hypersensitivity reaction. The one case of optic atrophy was most likely due to TB rather than the side effects of antituberculous drugs because visual loss started before commencement of therapy. One case of cystoid macula edema was associated with retinal vasculitis. Two cases of cataract and one case of glaucoma had a past history of recurrent redness of their eyes and signs suggestive of previous uveitis such as irregular pupil and iris pigment on the anterior lens capsule. Only 2 cases showed obvious signs of active uveitis, one with chronic anterior uveitis and the other with a multifocal chorioretinitis. This is similar to the findings in other reports. [6],[7] Multifocal choroiditis has been reported as a manifestation of ocular TB. [18] In a similar study in Brazil, most of the ocular findings in patients with TB were in the anterior segment. [3] This is similar to the finding in this report. Ocular TB was also shown to have a low prevalence but important visual loosing morbidity. [3]

In conclusion, TB is a cause of ocular morbidity, and visual loss. Prevention of TB, and early diagnosis and treatment may reduce ocular morbidity and prevent avoidable visual loss many of which occur from complications of chronic uveitis.

   References Top

1.Chuka-Okosa C.M. Tuberculosis and the Eye. Nigerian Journal of Clinical Practice 2006; 9: 68-76.  Back to cited text no. 1    
2.Cunningham ET, Rathinam SR. Editorial TB or not TB? Perennial question. Br. J Ophthalmol 2001; 85:127-128.  Back to cited text no. 2    
3.Almeida SR, Finamor LP, Muccioli C. Ocular manifestation in patients with tuberculosis. Arq Bras Oftalmol 2006; 69:177-179.  Back to cited text no. 3  [PUBMED]  [FULLTEXT]
4.Dutt AK, Moers D, Stead W.W. Short-course chemotherapy for extrapulmonary tuberculosis: nine years experience. Ann Inter Med 1986;104:7-12.  Back to cited text no. 4    
5.Donahue HC. Ophthalmologic experience in a tuberculous sanatorium. Am J. Ophthalmol 1967; 64: 472-478.  Back to cited text no. 5    
6.Ayanru J.O: The problem of uveitis in Bendel State of Nigeria: experience in Benin City. Br J Ophthalmol. 1977; 16; 655-659.  Back to cited text no. 6    
7.Herderly DE, Genstler AJ., Smith RE, Rao NA: Changing patterns of uveitis. Am J Ophthalmol 1987; 103:131-136.  Back to cited text no. 7    
8.Welton TH, Townsend JC, Bright DC, Anderson SF, Nguyen AT, Ilsen PF. Presumed ocular tuberculosis in an AIDS patient. J Am Optom Assoc 1996; 67(6): 350-357.  Back to cited text no. 8    
9.Blane D. Inequality and social class. In: Patrick DL, Scambler G(eds). Sociology as applied to Medicine. London, Bailliere Tindal; 1982 113-124.  Back to cited text no. 9    
10.Goyal JL, De Sarmi, Singh NP, Bhatia A. Evaluation of visual function in patients on ethambutol therapy for tuberculosis: a prospective study. J Commun Dis 2003; 35: 230-243.   Back to cited text no. 10  [PUBMED]  
11. Romero Aroca P, Castro Salomo A, Martinez Salcedo I, Almena Carcia M, Salrat Serra M, Zamora Barrios J. Tuberculous retinitis with associated periphletitis. Arch Soc Esp Oftalmol 2004; 79:81-84.   Back to cited text no. 11    
12. Varma D, Anand S, Reddy AR, et al. Tuberculosis an under-diagnosed aetiological agents in uveitis with an effective treatment. Eye 2006; 20:1068-1073.   Back to cited text no. 12  [PUBMED]  [FULLTEXT]
13. Torres RM, Calonge M. Macular edema as the only ocular finding of tuberculosis. Am J. Ophthalmol 2004; 138: 1048-1049.   Back to cited text no. 13    
14. Osahon AI, Omoti AE, Otoibhi SC. Free eye screening in the University of Benin Teaching Hospital, Benin City, Nigeria. Journal College of Medicine 2004; 9:110-112.  Back to cited text no. 14    
15.Adeoye AO. Analysis of eye diseases in private practice. Nigerian Journal of Ophthalmology 2002; 10:1-4.  Back to cited text no. 15    
16.Osahon AI, Edema OT, Ukponmwan CU, et al. Eye care outreach to rural underserved populations in Edo and Delta States of Nigeria. Journal of Biomedical Sciences 2004; 3: 83-90.  Back to cited text no. 16    
17.Akinsola FB, Majekodunmi AA, Obowu CB, Ekanem EE. Pattern of eye diseases in adults 16 years and above in Ikeja and Alimosho local government areas of Lagos state. Nig. Postgrad Med J 1995; 2: 56-61.  Back to cited text no. 17    
18.Bastion ML, Kok HS, Muhaya M. Multifocal choroiditis: ocular TB or side-effects of anti-TB therapy Med J Malaysia, 2004; 59: 682-684.  Back to cited text no. 18    


  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4]

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