Retinopathy of Prematurity-related Child Blindness in Africa

Blindness Secondary to Retinopathy of Prematurity in Sub-Saharan Africa
Scott K Herrod et al.
Ophthalmic Epidemiol. 2021 Apr 4;1-8.
doi: 10.1080/09286586.2021.1910315

Scott K Herrod 1 , Adedayo Adio 2 , Sherwin J Isenberg 3 , Scott R Lambert 4


Department of Public Health, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, USA.
Department of Ophthalmology, University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital, Port Harcourt, Nigeria.
Department of Ophthalmology, Stein Eye Institute, UCLA School of Medicine, Los Angeles, California, USA.
Department of Ophthalmology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Palo Alto, California, USA.

PMID: 33818253
DOI: 10.1080/09286586.2021.1910315

Purpose: Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) has been suggested to be increasing in Africa. However, it was only previously documented as a cause of blindness in 8 of 48 (16.7%) sub-Saharan African countries. The purpose of this study was to better understand the magnitude and breadth of blindness from ROP in sub-Saharan Africa.Methods: A questionnaire was sent to 455 ophthalmologists practicing in sub-Saharan Africa; the questionnaire was available in English, French and Portuguese.Results: Responses were received from 132 of 455 (29%) ophthalmologists to whom the survey was sent. Eighty-three respondents were identified as ROP-involved ophthalmologists and were from 26 of 48 (54%) sub-Saharan African countries. Ophthalmologists in 23 countries reported that they examined at least one child who was blind from ROP during the last 5 years. Sixteen of these countries had not previously reported cases of blindness from ROP in the literature. The perceived occurrence of Type 1 or more severe ROP was reported to be increasing by 31 of 77 (40%) ROP-involved ophthalmologists. ROP-involved pediatric ophthalmologists and retinal surgeons reported the number of infants they examined annually with Type 1 or more severe ROP increased from a median of 1 (range: 0-15) to a median of 4 (range: 0-40) from 2015 to 2019. ROP was estimated to be the cause of blindness for 10% of all blind children examined by ROP-involved pediatric ophthalmologists and retinal surgeons during 2019.Conclusions: ROP is becoming a more important and widespread cause of childhood blindness in sub-Saharan Africa.