Eye Care Seeking Behaviours of Patients in Rural Cross River State, Nigeria

Antor Odu Ndep, Bernadine Nsa Ekpenyong, Oladapo Okareh, Alexander Peter, Augustus Ezenwankwo, Franka Njong Ayuk


The major causes of blindness in Cross River State, Nigeria are refractive error, glaucoma and cataract. The World Health Organization had estimated that about 145 million people have significant distance refractive errors and at least 13 million of these were children. About 80% of these causes of blindness are avoidable at the primary level of care. The aim of this study was to determine factors responsible for the eye care seeking behaviour of patients in three rural communities of Cross River State, Nigeria. A 39-item structured questionnaire was used to interview 290 patients who visited selected primary health centers (PHC). Most patients, 40.7% were 20 – 29 years and 44% walked to the center. Reasons for clinic visit included, fever, 44.5%; immunization, 30.7%; antenatal care, 13.1%; and eye care, 4.5%. About 51% had a history of eye problems, of these; only 29.7% visited a hospital while 42% visited either a patent medicine vendor or traditional healers. About 49% had family history of spectacle use, of these; 34.5% got glasses from lay eyeglass sellers, 33.8% from hospital/eye clinic, 25.4% from outreach eye screening, and only 4.2% from PHC. Due to reported unavailability of eye care services at the PHC, patients tend to use available albeit questionable eye care services closest to them before visiting secondary health facilities when symptoms persist. The PHC’s proximity to the patients may likely increase access to blindness prevention services if made available at the primary care level.

Keywords: Eye-care, health seeking behaviour, rural health, primary health care

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ISSN (Paper)2224-5766 ISSN (Online)2225-0484

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