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Middle East African Journal of Ophthalmology Middle East African Journal of Ophthalmology
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Year : 2011  |  Volume : 18  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 199-203

Blindness in Iraq: Leading causes, target patients, and barriers to treatment

Department of Ophthalmology Medical College, Research Unit, Ibn Al-Haetham Teaching Eye Hospital, Al-Mustanserya University, Baghdad, Iraq

Correspondence Address:
Faiz I Al-Shakarchi
Ibn Al-Haetham Teaching Eye Hospital, Baghdad
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0974-9233.84044

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Purpose : To define the main causes of blindness, demographic characteristics and barriers to care of blind patients attending a teaching eye hospital in Iraq. Material and Method : Successive new patients, 6 years of age and older, who attended three outpatients clinics at Ibn Al-Haetham Teaching Eye Hospital (IAHTEH), Baghdad, Iraq, from September 1 to November 30, 2007, were included in this study. Inclusion criterion was fulfillment of the World Health Organization's definition of blindness. The cause of blindness was identified and subjects were interviewed for collection of data on demographic characteristics and barriers to treatment. Results : Of 18612 consecutive patients who attended the outpatient clinics, 497 (2.7%) patients were blind. Cataract (76.1%), diabetic retinopathy (12.9%), and glaucoma (5%) were the leading causes of blindness. The majority of blind patients had low socioeconomic status and poor educational level. In cases of cataract, the most important barrier to treatment was the waiting list at the hospital (53.7%). A lack of awareness was the most important barrier to treatment for patients with diabetic retinopathy (54.7%) and glaucoma (56%). Conclusions : The preliminary data from our study will aid in the development of blindness prevention programs in Iraq. Priorities include decreasing waiting lists for cataract surgeries at governmental hospitals. Active health promotion programs for early detection and treatment of diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma are also warranted.

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