Information on ocular anomalies can help in developing specific interventions to prevent visual impairment especially among children. The aim of this study was therefore to determine the prevalence, the causes of ocular anomalies, and their impact on vision of schoolchildren in Ghana.
A cluster random sampling technique was used to select four government primary schools in Ashaiman Municipal for this study. Each pupil underwent ocular examination involving visual acuity, external examination, anterior and posterior segment examination, and objective and subjective refraction. They also answered questions relating to ocular problems affecting them.
A total of 811 pupils were sampled, with ages ranging from 6 to 16 years. The mean age of the sampled population was 10.6 years (95% confidence interval, 10.4 to 10.8). Prevalence of ocular anomalies was 27.3% (95% confidence interval, 24.2 to 30.5). Allergic conjunctivitis (17.3%) and refractive errors (6.8%) were the main causes of ocular anomalies. Others include pinguecula (1.2%), pterygia (0.9%), infectious conjunctivitis (0.3%), corneal opacity (0.1%), lens opacity (0.1%), and retinal degeneration (0.1%). Ocular anomalies and refractive errors were significantly associated with sex (p = 0.04 and p = 0.01, respectively). Presenting visual acuity in the better eye 20/40 or worse was identified in 5.3% of schoolchildren, and 0.5% had moderate visual impairment. Only 11.8% of schoolchildren with ocular anomalies had been treated for their ocular problems before the study.
The prevalence and causes of ocular anomalies found in this study suggest a need for more targeted eye health interventions such as school eye screening for early diagnosis and treatment of any presenting conditions among schoolchildren.