Objective: To determine the prevalence, causes and risk factors to visual impairment among patients with
diabetes at Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital (MRRH) as a baseline pilot for developing diabetic retinopathy
Design: This was a descriptive cross sectional hospital based study conducted for a period of six months.
Methods: In a cross-sectional study done at Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital, 318 patients with diabetes aged
18 years and above were enrolled. Their visual acuity was determined. Those that had visual acuity of below
6/18 underwent a detailed ocular exam including refraction and a dilated fundoscopy to determine the cause
of visual impairment.
Results: The prevalence of visual impairment was 28.6% without correction, and 17% with correction. Cataract
was the commonest cause of visual impairment (34.5%) followed by refractive error (20.8%), glaucoma (16.8%)
and diabetic retinopathy (12.5%). Age was the only significant risk factor to visual impairment in this population.
Conclusion: The proportion of visual impairment was high and cataract was the commonest cause of visual
impairment in this population.
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