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Middle East African Journal of Ophthalmology Middle East African Journal of Ophthalmology
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Year : 2015  |  Volume : 22  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 508-513

Perception and attitude of a rural community regarding adult blindness in North Central Nigeria

1 Department of Ophthalmology, University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, Ilorin Kwara State, Nigeria
2 Department of Ophthalmology, University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital and University of Ilorin, Ilorin Kwara State, Nigeria

Correspondence Address:
Victoria A Olatunji
Department of Ophthalmology, University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, P.M.B. 1515, Ilorin Kwara State
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0974-9233.167826

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Aim: To determine the perception and attitudes of a rural community regarding the etiology, prevention, and treatment of blindness in adults. Methods: A cross-sectional, descriptive study was performed in a rural community in Kwara State, Nigeria using semi-structured questionnaire. All adults aged 40 years or older who were residents for a minimum of 6 months in the community were included. Data were collected on patient demographics, knowledge, attitude, perception, and use of the eye care facility. Results: A total of 290 participants were interviewed. The male-to-female ratio was 1:2. Consumption of certain types of food was an important cause of blindness as perceived by 57.9% of the respondents, followed by supernatural forces (41.7%) and aging (19%). Sixty percent of respondents thought blindness could be prevented. Age (P = 0.04) and level of education (P =0.003) significantly affected the beliefs on the prevention of blindness. Most respondents (79.3%) preferred orthodox eye care, but only 65% would accept surgical intervention if required. The level of education significantly affected the acceptance of surgery (P = 0.04). Reasons for refusing surgery were, fear (64%), previous poor outcomes in acquaintances (31%), belief that surgery is not required (3%), and cost (2%). About 65% used one form of traditional eye medication or the other. Over half (56.6%) believed that spectacles could cure all causes of blindness. Of those who had ocular complaints, 57.1% used orthodox care without combining with either traditional or spiritual remedies. Conclusion: This rural Nigerian community had some beliefs that were consistent with modern knowledge. However, the overall knowledge, attitude, and perceptions of this community need to be redirected to favor the eradication of avoidable blindness. Although an eye care facility was available, use by the community was suboptimal. Age and the level of education affected their overall perception and attitudes.

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