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Prevalence and associations of blinding trachoma in indigenous Australians within central Australia: the Central Australian Ocular Health Study

Authors

  • John Landers MBBS MPH PhD,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Ophthalmology, Flinders Medical Centre, Adelaide, South Australia, and
      Dr John Landers, Flinders Medical Centre, Flinders Drive, Bedford Park, SA 5042, Australia. Email: john.landers@bigpond.com
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  • Tim Henderson FRANZCO,

    1. Department of Ophthalmology, Alice Springs Hospital, Alice Springs, Northern Territory, Australia
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  • Jamie Craig DPhil FRANZCO

    1. Department of Ophthalmology, Flinders Medical Centre, Adelaide, South Australia, and
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  • Financial Disclosure: The authors have no proprietary or financial interest in this study. Partial equipment grants for the study were received from:
    • Ophthalmic Research Institute of Australia: B & L Lowe Grant
    • NH & MRC: Centre for Clinical Research Excellence
    Performed at The Department of Ophthalmology, Alice Springs Hospital, Alice Springs, Northern Territory

Dr John Landers, Flinders Medical Centre, Flinders Drive, Bedford Park, SA 5042, Australia. Email: john.landers@bigpond.com

Abstract

Purpose:  To determine the prevalence and associations of blinding trachoma within the indigenous Australian population living in central Australia.

Methods:  A total of 1884 individuals aged 20 years or older, living among 30 remote communities within the statistical local area of ‘Central Australia’, were recruited for this study. This equated to 36% of those aged 20 years or older and 67% of those aged 40 years or older within this district. Participants were recruited as they presented to the eye clinic at each remote community. Anterior segment examination was performed and the rates of trachomatous trichiasis (TT) and trachomatous corneal opacification (CO) were documented. The prevalence of TT and CO in one or both eyes was presented.

Results:  There were 6.1% (95% CI 5.0–7.2) (8.3% of those aged 40 years or older) who had TT and 3.3% (95% CI 2.5–4.1) (4.4% of those aged 40 years or older) who had CO. Both TT and CO were associated with advancing age and female sex. Prevalence varied widely between communities, from 0% to 33% for TT and 0% to 27% for CO.

Conclusion:  Our study has shown that blinding trachoma remains endemic among indigenous Australians in central Australia. However, compared with previous estimates, the prevalence of TT and CO appears to be decreasing.

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