Cataracts are one of the leading causes of preventable blindness worldwide. A community health assessment in rural south-East Nigeria showed that lack of finances and poor knowledge were contributory factors to early cataracts. Free cataract surgeries were scheduled, but only 10 out of 100 patients qualified due to untreated medical comorbidities like hypertension, diabetes, glaucoma and anemia. This study aims to investigate the feasibility of using an electronic (E)-based educational program to educate patients on managing medical comorbidities in order to reduce the cataract surgery screening failure rate in the community.
Using a questionnaire format, a cross-sectional study was administered to 40 males and 43 females aged 45-85 years with a diagnosis of mature cataracts. Questions focused on socioeconomic status, quality of life, diet diversity and E-learning readiness.
74% of the subjects had hypertension, 42% had anemia, 16% had diabetes and 51% had glaucoma. There were positive associations between Socioeconomic Status (SES) and quality of life (QOL) (p=0.021) as well as E-learning (p=0.04) scores. Drinking bottled water or from a personal borehole was correlated with hypertension (p=0.037). A vitamin-predominant diet correlated positively with number of chronic conditions (p=0.03). There was a positive correlation between diet diversity and quality of life (p=0.01). Only 2% of the patients were E-learning ready.
A higher SES and access to clean water source were associated with hypertension, likely indicative of access to poorer health choices. A diet high in vitamins and minerals was associated with higher numbers of chronic diseases, an indication of poor diet diversity. Majority of cataract patients were not E-learning ready. Education on diet diversity and management of chronic illness could empower patients to improved health practices and potentially improve cataract screening success rates in the community.