Objective To evaluate the etiologies, management, and outcomes of pediatric cataracts in a rural sub-Saharan African setting.
Methods A retrospective, consecutive case series of patients presenting to a tertiary referral center in southern Ethiopia during a 13-month period. All patients underwent clinical examination, were diagnosed as having cataract on the basis of standard clinical assessment, and immediately underwent surgical management. Visual acuity results were grossly divided into ambulatory and nonambulatory vision according to patient age and cooperation.
Results Ninety-one eyes of 73 consecutive patients (57 boys and 16 girls) were included in the study. The mean (SEM) age at diagnosis was 7.1 (0.5) years (range, 0.5-15 years). Fifty-five patients had unilateral cataract and 18 had bilateral cataract. Cataracts were categorized according to the etiologic cause: congenital (n = 50), traumatic (n = 33), congenital glaucoma-related (n = 3), partially absorbed cataracts (n = 3), and congenital rubella infections (n = 2). At presentation, visual acuity ranged from 6/60 to light perception, with 13 eyes (14%) having ambulatory vision (better than hand motion). The mean postoperative visual acuity was significantly improved, ranging from light perception to 6/9. Seventy-five eyes (82%) achieved ambulatory vision. Of the 61 eyes with an implanted intraocular lens, 56 (92%) reached ambulatory visual acuity following surgery. This was significantly greater than preoperative visual acuity results (P < .001).
Conclusions The underlying cause and management of pediatric cataracts in the developing world can differ significantly from that commonly reported in the literature. The effects of appropriate intervention on both visual outcome and associated survival statistics may be profound.