Characterizing ocular needs and distribution of corrective lenses in two Peruvian communities
Purpose: The Peru Health Outreach Project (PHOP) is a collaborative global health effort organized by medical students and faculty from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and Lerner College of Medicine. Our group organizes an annual medical mission trip to Chincha Alta (CA) and Sacred Valley (SV), two underserved Peruvian communities in urban and rural environments, respectively. Among other activities, PHOP provides a free vision clinic with distribution of eyeglasses. We aim to identify the ophthalmologic needs of these two communities as well as report the outcomes of a high-volume mobile vision clinic for a medical mission trip.
Methods: This was a retrospective chart review of patients evaluated by the PHOP Vision Clinic in CA and SV over a two-week period in June 2017. Patients were interviewed using a standardized vision intake form in Spanish or the oral translation of the form into Quechua, examined by medical students for visual acuity and cataracts, and provided prescription eyeglasses when indicated. Only data from adult patients 18 years or older were used in data analysis in accordance with the IRB specifications. We evaluated the prevalence of eye symptoms and past eye medical history in CA and SV. Differences in eye symptoms and eye health history at the two sites were analyzed using a chi-squared analysis.
Results: 492 adult patients in CA and 53 adult patients in SV with a median age of 50 completed the interviews. The most commonly reported symptoms across both populations were itchy eyes (CA 77%, SV 69%), red eyes (CA 60%, SV 75%), and photophobia (CA 54%, SV 77%). Patients in SV were more likely to report having red eyes (p=0.02), photophobia (p<0.001), and eye disease (p=0.04). A high proportion of patients had never had a visual acuity examination (43% in CA and 68% in SV). The majority of patients with refractive errors (73.1% overall) were provided donated glasses.
Conclusions: This high-volume clinic was able to address the needs of the majority of patients with refractive errors. In both communities, there was a lack of access to ophthalmologic care and a high prevalence of ocular symptoms, with several specific symptoms and eye disease more prevalent in SV. This underscores the need for ocular health care in these communities as well as more resources and patient education during future missions to address non-refractive ocular issues.
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