Baseline Ophthalmic Data Of School Children Aged 15 Years Or Younger In Leh, Jammu And Kashmir, India
Kirti Nath Jha,ProfessorDepartment of Ophthalmology,Manipal College of Medical Sciences,Pokhara,(Nepal)
Background:Due to extreme cold climate and its remoteness, Ladakh remains one of the least accessible parts of the India. Consequently, epidemiological data about this region is scarce.
Purpose: This study was carried out to present baseline ophthalmic data of school children aged 15 years or younger from two schools at Leh, Jammu and Kashmir, India, which is climatically situated in a high altitude cold desert.
Design: School-based cross sectional study.
Methods: Trained ophthalmic assistants performed visual acuity measurements using Snellen chart and examination of external eye with torchlight, for children aged 15 years or younger, from two selected schools with the largest student strength. Any student with visual acuity of 20/40 or below in either eyes or any other obvious abnormality, were referred to the local eye centre at the Military Hospital. At the hospital, an ophthalmologist further examined subjects. Examination by an ophthalmologist involved repeated visual acuity measurements with Snellen chart, refraction under cycloplegia with 1 % cyclopentolate eye drops, slit-lamp anterior segment examinations, and dilated fundus examinations.
Results: An ophthalmic assistant screened 843 (90.06%) of 936 children enumerated, and identified 91 (10.79%) children as requiring further clinical examination. Refractive errors (5.69 %) were found to be the major cause for ocular morbidity in children in this region. Conjunctival inflammatory diseases are the other important cause of ocular morbidity in this population.
Conclusions: Refractive errors and conjunctival inflammatory conditions are the major ocular cause of ocular morbidity among the school children in Leh.