Changing prevalence of xerophthalmia in Indonesia, 1977-1992

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



European Journal of Clinical Nutrition






Change; Human; Indonesia; Prevalence; Xerophthalmia


Objective: The primary objective of this analysis was to determine if the prevalence of xerophthalmia in Indonesia has changed over the period 1977-78 to 1992. Design: The design was two cross-sectional prevalence surveys conducted in the same rural sample locations 14 years apart. Setting: The studies were conducted in 15 provinces of Indonesia using a stratified random selection of villages. Subjects: All persons in selected villages <6 years of age were eligible for participation. Children were recruited during a door-to-door census of villages and invited to present for an eye examination at a central point in the village. A total of 19 032 subjects were included in the 1977-78 and 18 508 children in the 1992 survey. Results: Overall, the prevalence of active xerophthalmia among preschool children declined by 75% (1.33% in 1977-78 to 0.34% in 1992). Active corneal disease declined by 95% (1/1000 in 1977-78 to 0.05/1000 in 1992). While the overall declines were dramatic and highly significant (P < 0.0001), selected provinces continued to show rates higher than the WHO criteria for a problem of public health significance. Conclusions: The prevalence of xerophthalmia has declined significantly over the past 14 years in Indonesia. The specific reasons for this decline cannot be ascribed to any particular intervention due to the multitude of health and social changes that have occurred during this period. Sponsorship: Supported by grants from the Ministry of Health, Republic of Indonesia, Helen Keller International, Cooperative Agreement Number (DAN-0045) between the Office of Nutrition, United States Agency for International Development and the Dana Center for Preventive Ophthalmology of the Johns Hopkins University Schools of Medicine and Public Health, and the National Institutes of Health, United States Public Health Service ( RR-04060).

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