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April 1996

A Population-Based Study of Xerophthalmia in the Extreme North Province of Cameroon, West Africa

Author Affiliations

From the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, Los Angeles, Calif, and the Jules Stein Eye Institute, University of California—Los Angeles (Drs Wilson and Casey); US Agency for International Development Office of Nutrition, Washington, DC (Dr Mansour); Ministry of Nutrition (Mr Atud) and Ministry of Public Health of Cameroon, Yaounde, West Africa (Drs Fobi and Moukouri); Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) University (Dr Alemayehu); Orbis International, New York City (Dr Martone); and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Mass (Dr Ross-Degnan).

Arch Ophthalmol. 1996;114(4):464-468. doi:10.1001/archopht.1996.01100130460018

Objective:  To obtain cross-sectional data on clinical and nutritional vitamin A deficiency from which to design appropriate intervention strategies.

Design:  A population-based survey using multistage, cluster sampling.

Setting:  Extreme North Province of Cameroon, West Africa.

Participants:  Children aged 0 to 5 years.

Main Outcome Measures:  Clinical signs of active xerophthalmia and dietary vitamin A intake.

Results:  Of 5352 children examined, signs of active xerophthalmia were noted in 0.62%. Bitot's spots, corneal xerosis, and corneal ulceration were noted in 0.47%, 0.06%, and 0.12% of the subjects, respectively. Children with xerophthalmia had lower vitamin A intake scores when compared with age-matched controls and with a 20% systematic subsample of children.

Conclusion:  Xerophthalmia is a major public health problem in this region.