The clinical characteristics of patients with glaucoma presenting to Botswana healthcare facilities: An observational study
Objective This study aimed to establish the clinical characteristics of patients with glaucoma attending eye care facilities in Botswana, and management of glaucoma among patients who received care in these facilities. The study also aimed to calculate the number of new diagnoses of glaucoma within the glaucoma service.
Design A prospective, hospital-based, observational study.
Setting A multicentre study was undertaken in government-run eye departments in Botswana from June to August 2012.
Participants All patients with a diagnosis of glaucoma attending clinics at seven study sites were invited to participate.
Outcome measures Examination findings, diagnosis and management were extracted from individual patient-held medical charts. Sociodemographic characteristics, patient knowledge and understanding of glaucoma were assessed through face-to-face interviews. In addition, details of outpatient attendances for 2011 were collected from 21 government-run hospitals.
Results The majority of the 366 patients interviewed had a diagnosis of primary glaucoma (86.6%). The diagnoses were mainly made by ophthalmologists (48.6%) and ophthalmic nurses (44.0%). Many patients (38.5%) had been symptomatic for over 6?months before visiting an eye clinic. The mean presenting intraocular pressure was 28.2?mm?Hg (SD 11.9?mm?Hg). Most follow-up patients (79.2%) had not received surgery, however, many (89.5%) would accept surgery. Only 11.5% of participants had heard of glaucoma prior to diagnosis. Many participants (35.9%) did not understand glaucoma after being diagnosed. The majority (94.9%) of living first-degree relatives had never been examined. The number of newly diagnosed glaucoma cases for 2011 in the south of the country was 14.1/100?000; 95% CI (12.0 to 16.5), in the north it was 16.2/100?000; 95% CI (13.8 to 19.0).
Conclusions Glaucoma is a significant burden that presents challenges to ophthalmic services in Botswana. Many patients have limited understanding of the condition and poor access to services. There is a need to develop a treatment infrastructure to include safe surgery and a reliable supply of effective medication.