Original Article | Volume 19: 30 | 15 May 2024

Prevalence of visual impairment and eye diseases in Malaysia: A cross-sectional prospective study at the University of Malaya Medical Centre

ABSTRACT

Introduction: The prevalence of visual impairment and ocular diseases changes over time. This measure can help general practitioners in anticipating common eye disorders that may require ophthalmological referrals to government hospitals. This study aimed to evaluate the prevalence of visual impairment and ocular diseases in an outpatient ophthalmology clinic in a public hospital and the types of investigations frequently conducted to diagnose these diseases.
Methods: A cross-sectional prospective study was conducted over three weeks in the eye clinic of the University of Malaya Medical Centre. The electronic medical records of all patients who attended the outpatient clinic were assessed to collect data on sex, age, type of visit, visual acuity, ocular presentation, investigations conducted and diagnosis of eye diseases. Visual impairment and blindness were categorised as per the World Health Organization criteria.
Results: Among 1002 patients, 327 had visual impairments (32.63%), and nine had blindness (0.9%). Cataracts were the most common ocular disease diagnosed (n=294, 29.74%), followed by glaucoma (n=123, 12.28%) and diabetic retinopathy (n=84, 8.38%). Optical coherence tomography was the most common investigation performed (n=272, 64.9%), followed by Humphrey visual field testing (n=53,12.6%).
Conclusion: Untreated refractive error is the leading cause of visual impairment in children, while cataract, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy are the main contributors to visual impairment and blindness in elderly individuals. Our study highlights the urgent need for general practitioners to recognise avoidable visual impairment in all age groups to help prevent blindness.

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