A survey of traditional eye practices: a case study of the central region of Ghana.
Enimah, Eugene Buah.
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Background: Once one becomes dependent on the eyes, loss of vision can negatively impact person-social and psychological well-being with added financial constraints. Studies have shown that apart from attending the healthcare facilities to receive professional eye care, people also resort to other means to receive eye care, which sometimes have a harmful effect on the eye. Aim: This study sought to measure the prevalence, determinants, complications of traditional eye practices (use of TEM only, ophthalmic self-medication, and a combination of TEM and ophthalmic self-medication), and reasons for the non-use of professional eye care services among the Ghanaian populace. Methods: The study used a mixed-method convergent parallel study design to enroll 191 residents who were 18years old and above. The sampling method was based on the Expanded Program on Immunization survey technique. The data collection for this study included the administration of both closed and open-ended questionnaires, an interview, and an ophthalmic examination. The ophthalmic examination included the assessment of the visual integrity of the participants. Results: In total, 91.83% (n=191) participants were included in the study. The prevalence of the use of TEM was 9%, ophthalmic self-medication (7%), and a combination of TEM and ophthalmic self-medication (3%). Females were two times more likely to use TEM than male participants [χ2 (1) = 5.183, p = 0.023, (95% CI; 1.099 – 3.534)]. Other socio-demographic characteristics were not associated with traditional eye practices. The predominant TEM used was herbal medicine “Nyankwa O ye,” traditional concoction, and Kajal. The reasons for the use of TEM were; others benefitted from it (37.30%), belief in its potency (21.10%), and unsatisfactory orthodox treatment (15.50%). The major ocular complication recorded were glaucoma suspect (29.41%), refractive error (27.73%), other diagnoses (18.49%), and corneal scar (10.08%). Reasons for the non-use of professional eye care services were traditional eye practices were affordable, the eye clinics did not work on weekends, the potency of traditional eye practices, and others benefited from traditional eye practices. Conclusion: The factor that influences the use of TEMs at Asikuma Odoben Brakwa District was gender. The use of traditional eye practices should be discouraged due to its devastating consequences on the eyes.