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Middle East African Journal of Ophthalmology Middle East African Journal of Ophthalmology
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Year : 2010  |  Volume : 17  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 335-342

Psychosocial characteristics of totally blind people in a Nigerian city

1 Department of Ophthalmology, University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, Ilorin, Nigeria
2 Department of Behavioural Sciences, University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, Ilorin, Nigeria
3 Department of Epidemiology and Community Health, University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, Ilorin, Nigeria

Correspondence Address:
Mosunmola F Tunde-Ayinmode
Department of Behavioural Sciences, University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, Ilorin
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0974-9233.71603

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Purpose: To characterize the demographic and psychosocial problems of a group of blind people as a way of attracting more attention to and providing data that can improve the psychosocial care of the visually impaired. Materials and Method: A cross-sectional descriptive study of a population of totally blind people in Ilorin, Nigeria using a self-report questionnaire (SRQ). The questionnaire was verbally administered by the study personnel in the local language. Simple frequency tables were obtained and the Chi-square test was performed to determine significant differences between variables. P-value <0.05 was considered statistically significant. Results: Sixty one blind patients consented to participate. Most participants were engaged in street begging for their livelihood. Most subjects desired a job change, signifying dissatisfaction with the present occupation. Up to 80% of the cohort was married and had spouses who were also blind in at least one eye. Approximately two-thirds had five or more children and majority lived with family members who were responsible for taking care of their personal hygiene, cooking and mobility. The majority developed blindness in childhood and 16% had a family history of blindness and 77% had never used conventional eye care, with corneal disease being the most frequent cause of blindness. Many feared that their children may also become blind. Thirty-one (51%) scored ≥5 on SRQ and were classified as probable cases of psychological disorder. Conclusion: Blindness in a majority of cases that started in childhood was probably preventable. Inaccessibility to or failure of the formal rehabilitation and social welfare systems may have caused this psychosocial dilemma. The high level of social and family interaction provides opportunity for organized preventive ophthalmology, community health care services and psychosocial care.

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