Prevalence of xerophthalmia among

malnourished children in rural Ethiopia


To assess the prevalence of eye disease among malnourished children in a rural Ethiopian health center and evaluate correlations between xerophthalmia and grades of malnutrition. A retrospective, cross-sectional survey. An institution-based cross-sectional prospective study was performed at Bushulo Health Center in rural south Ethiopia and included all children age 6 months to 14 years receiving care for malnourishment from June 1st to July 30th, 2008. Data collection involved a combination of interviews with caretakers, ocular examination by a pediatric ophthalmologist and anthropometric measurements.


One hundred and seventy-three children (average age at examination 2.9 ± 0.2 years) were treated for malnutrition (97 female, 76 male). One hundred and forty-nine patients had moderate malnutrition (86.03 %) and 24 had severe malnutrition (13.9 %). The following eye diseases were diagnosed—trachoma (12.1 %), blepharitis (13.3 %) and xerophthalmia (20.8 %). Severely malnourished children were more likely to suffer from xerophthalmia than moderately malnourished children (p\0.0001). When comparing anthropometric measurements to the diagnosis of xerophthalmia, only weight percentile showed significance (p = 0.008). Xerophthalmia is a common global cause of pediatric blindness and is highly correlated with severe malnutrition. Continued efforts are necessary to improve nutrition and outcomes in these patients.

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School screening research

Jinka eye project is an ongoing project since 2009 , this year we introduced a screening program in first grades in the Omo valley, we examined prospectively 308 kids ages 4-8 (ave=5.5) , 160 girls , 148 boys. all children underwent visual acuity testing by a trained optometrist  followed by binocular autorefraction using the Plusoptix A12 by a masked technician.  


Statistical analysis was done using the T test  264 kids (85.7%) had 6/6 vision in both eyes. no kids were wearing glasses in any of the sites examined, this probably reflects the fact that no optometry service exist in the region  12 kids (3.8%) had probable amblyopia (one bilateral) the Plusoptix could not give a reading in only  2/308  kids (one with high myopia -8 and the other since no cooperation). Average sphere was +0.81/+0/84 and average cylinder was -0.75/-0.83 for our knowledge this is the first screening in this remote area, surprisingly we have found that most children (85.7%) have uncorrected vision of 6/6 in each eye !


Most children had appropriate refraction per age, there was good correlation between the vision and the refractive status of the eye all 12 kids with reduced vision got complimentary rx for glasses (will be distributed from Addis)  we think that the data might suggest that only good sighted kids attend schools in this area, more research and treatment strategies are warranted