Title

Prevalence and severity of xerophthalmia in Southern Malawi

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date

1-1-1986

Journal

American Journal of Epidemiology

Volume

124

Issue

4

DOI

10.1093/oxfordjournals.aje.a114428

Keywords

Prevalence studies; Vitamin A deficiency; Xerophthalmia

Abstract

The first population-based study of xerophthalmia in Africa was conducted in the Lower Shire River Valley of Malawi in the autumn of 1983. A total of 5,436 children under six years of age were examined by three survey teams over an eight-week period. The prevalence of active xerophthalmia was 3.9%. Rates for night blindness and active corneal disease were more than five times the World Health Organization criterion for a problem of public health importance. Xerophthalmic corneal scarring occurred at a rate of 5.9/1,000, more than 10 times the World Health Organization criterion. All cases of bilateral blindness in this age group were considered to be due to vitamin A deficiency. Given recent evidence from Asia linking even subclinical vitamin A deficiency to increased risk of mortality and morbidity, this disease is not only a leading cause of blindness in this area, but may have an important impact on child survival as well. © 1986 by The Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health.

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