Traditional eye medicine use among ophthalmic patients attending a secondary health care center in Southeast Nigeria

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Date: May-August 2017
From: Port Harcourt Medical Journal(Vol. 11, Issue 2)
Publisher: Medknow Publications and Media Pvt. Ltd.
Document Type: Article
Length: 2,086 words
Lexile Measure: 1750L

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Byline: Eberechukwu. Achigbu, Kingsley. Achigbu

Introduction: The perceived high cost of eye care services has been implicated as one of the reasons for the use of traditional eye medications (TEMs) in the country. Other factors including distance, tradition, ignorance, and failure of medical treatment among others have also been documented as determinants of TEM use. TEMs constitute a wide range of unorthodox therapies utilized for treatment of ocular disorders. They have been reported to have no beneficial effect rather causing more harm than good. Aim: This study sought to determine the prevalence, types, and ocular indications for TEM use in the study population. Methods: This was a cross-sectional study in which a structured questionnaire was used to collect relevant data from consecutive patients attending the eye clinic during the study. Results: At a prevalence of 15.8%, the highest use of TEM was noted among artisans, those in the seventh decade of life, with low level of education, ocular complaints of poor vision, and illness of <1 year duration. Its use though high, was not significantly associated with age, sex, education, occupation and illness duration. Roots and herbs were the most common types of TEM used. Conclusion: There was a high prevalence of use of TEM in this study. The deleterious effect of its use is known and has been reported in literature. Education and enlightenment of the public are needed and highly recommended.


In 2014, the World Health Organisation reported an estimate of 285 million people as visually impaired worldwide.[1] Of these, 39 million were blind and 246 million had low vision.[1] About 90% of these live in low-income settings.[1] In Nigeria, the national blindness and visual impairment survey which was carried out between 2005 and 2007 reported that 4.25 million adults aged &#8805;40 years had moderate or severe visual impairment or blindness.[2] This implies that there is a huge need for eye care in Nigeria. A wide supply gap exists between the orthodox eye care practitioners and the patients.[3] A fact corroborated by the reported prevalence of traditional eye medication (TEM) use and attributed to many factors including the lack of eye care professionals and medical resources.[4] The low supply and high demand of these resources cause an upward increase in cost, thus discouraging uptake of care by those of lower socioeconomic class. Decreased access to eye care due to barriers of physical distance;[4] exclusive trust in traditional medicine, ignorance, failure of medical treatment, and communication gap between patient and orthodox eye care providers are other reasons.[5]

TEM which are mostly of biological origin can be plant or animal based and also include other unorthodox therapies applied to the eyes or ingested orally to achieve cure for ocular ailments. The efficacy of TEM in treating ocular problems have not been proven [6] rather they have been reported as causing more harm than good.[7] The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence, types of TEM, and ocular indications for the use of TEMs among outpatients attending the...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A581021252