Age-related macular degeneration common cause of vision impairment in Kenya

February 19, 2013, Public Library of Science

Despite current beliefs, the degenerative eye condition age-related macular degeneration is a common cause of vision impairment and blindness in sub-Saharan Africa, requiring an urgent review of vision services, according to a study by international researchers published in this week's PLOS Medicine.

Researchers from Kenya, , and the UK, currently led by Andrew Bastawrous from the International Eye Centre at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, found that age-related macular degeneration (a gradual deterioration of part of the retina) was the cause of blindness in 10% of people aged over 50 years in the Nakuru district of Kenya, which includes members of all 42 tribes residing in Kenya.

The researchers reached these conclusions by doing detailed eye examinations in randomly selected groups of 50 people aged over 50 years in the Nakuru District of between 2007 and 2008.

The authors found that the detection of age-related macular degeneration varied according to the type of eye examination: among the 3304 people who were examined by digital photography, 1.2% had advanced age-related macular degeneration and 11.2% had an earlier stage of the disease. When using the slit lamp technique, the standard tool used by an ophthalmologist, of the 4312 people examined, 6.7% were in the early stages of age-related macular degeneration and 0.7% had an advanced stage of the condition. Overall, the authors found that the rate of the condition increased with age but that slit lamp examination missed identifying the condition by a factor of 1.7 in relation to digital imaging, a more sophisticated technique.

Importantly, the authors found that in the people with any form of age-related macular degeneration, a quarter had some visual impairment and overall, 10% of blindness was caused by the condition.

The authors say: "Despite the long held belief that age-related macular degeneration is not a public health concern in Africa, this study provides evidence not only that age-related macular degeneration is as prevalent as in some other world regions, 12.4% in this population, but also that it is an important problem contributing to both visual impairment and in Africa."

They continue: "Low vision services remain a hugely neglected area of care on the African continent; strengthening these services might be a cost-effective use of limited resources in the interim period."

The authors add: "There is a need to train African-based ophthalmologists to improve recognition and treatment of age-related macular degeneration, particularly neovascular age-related , and a need for research to support the development of treatment programmes that are affordable and deliverable in Africa."

Explore further: Study shows daily aspirin intake can lead to blindness

More information: PLoS Med 10(2): e1001393. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001393

Related Stories

Study shows daily aspirin intake can lead to blindness

October 5, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- A new study published in Ophthalmology reveals that while taking a daily aspirin may reduce the risks of heart disease and stroke, a disturbing side effect has also been noted to increase the risk of developing ...

Age-related macular degeneration treatment works even with other eye problem

November 11, 2012
The primary treatment for wet macular degeneration, a chronic eye condition that causes vision loss, is effective even if patients have macular traction problems, a Mayo Clinic study shows. The findings will be presented ...

Recommended for you

Study advances gene therapy for glaucoma

January 16, 2018
While testing genes to treat glaucoma by reducing pressure inside the eye, University of Wisconsin-Madison scientists stumbled onto a problem: They had trouble getting efficient gene delivery to the cells that act like drains ...

New study offers added hope for patients awaiting corneal transplants

January 9, 2018
New national research led by Jonathan Lass of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine has found that corneal donor tissue can be safely stored for 11 days before transplantation surgery to correct eye problems ...

Diabetic blindness caused and reversed "trapped" immune cells in rodent retinas

January 3, 2018
Johns Hopkins researchers have discovered a cell signaling pathway in mice that triggers vision loss in patients with diabetic retinopathy and retinal vein occlusion – diseases characterized by the closure of blood vessels ...

Ophthalmologists increasingly dissatisfied with electronic health records

December 29, 2017
Ophthalmologists' use of electronic health records (EHR) systems for storing and accessing patients' medical histories more than doubled between 2006 and 2016, while their perceptions of financial and clinical productivity ...

Higher omega-3 fatty acid intake tied to lower glaucoma risk

December 26, 2017
(HealthDay)—Increased daily intake of ω-3 fatty acids is associated with lower odds of glaucoma, but higher levels of total polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) intake are associated with higher odds of developing glaucoma, ...

Protein analysis allows for treatment of eye-disease symptoms with existing drugs

December 21, 2017
Demonstrating the potential of precision health, a team led by a researcher at the Stanford University School of Medicine has matched existing drugs to errant proteins expressed by patients with a rare eye disease.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.