A Cross-Sectional Study of Ocular Changes in Children and Adolescents with Diabetes Mellitus in Selected Health Facilities in Ghana

Vera A. Essuman, Naa N. Tagoe, Akye Essuman, Benjamin Abaidoo, Josephine Akpalu, Herold A. Sackey, Charles F. Hayfron-Benjamin, George Asare, Albert G. B. Amoah, Thomas A. Ndanu, Imelda D. B. Ofori-Adjei, Nana A. Barnes, Benedicta L. Appiah-Thompson, Winfried M. Amoaku

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Background: The main objective of the study was to determine the prevalence of diabetic retinopathy (DR), other diabetes-related ocular changes (e.g., cataracts, corneal ulceration), and non-diabetic ocular disease in Ghanaian children and adolescents. The second objective was to evaluate the relationship between these conditions and age at diagnosis, current age, diabetes mellitus (DM) duration, and participant’s sex. Methods: A cross-sectional study, undertaken by a multidisciplinary team, included a cohort of children and adolescents (4–19 years) with DM recruited from selected health facilities in Ghana, from March 2016 to September 2019, after written informed consent or assent. The cohort will be followed up for 3 years to determine the natural course of the ocular changes, reported later. Participants were examined for all microvascular and macrovascular complications, non-diabetic ocular disease, anthropometric measurements, laboratory characteristics and quality of life issues. Full ocular examination was also undertaken. Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS Version 25.0) was used for the data analysis. Continuous and categorical variables were presented as mean and standard deviation (SD), median (interquartile range) and as percentages (%), respectively. T-test and Mann–Whitney U test were used in establishing associations. Results: A total of 58 participants were recruited. DR was detected in only 1 out of 58 (1.7%) participants at baseline. Cataracts were the most common ocular finding, detected in 42 (72%) at baseline. Other anterior segment changes observed included blepharitis 46 (79.3%) and tear film instability 38 (65.5%). There was a significant positive association between duration of the DM and the risk of cataract (p = 0.027). Participants’ age at diagnosis was significantly associated with the presence of prominent corneal nerves (p = 0.004). Conclusions: DR was uncommon in this cohort of young persons with DM in Ghana. Cataracts, blepharitis and refractive errors were ocular changes commonly observed. All young persons with diabetes should undergo regular eye examination in all clinics where follow-up care is provided.
Original languageEnglish
Article number5295
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2022


  • diabetes mellitus
  • microvascular
  • ocular complications
  • retinopathy

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