RESEARCH ARTICLE

Status of Childhood Eye Care Services in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: Eye Care Professionals’ Perspectives

The Open Ophthalmology Journal 17 Aug 2022 RESEARCH ARTICLE DOI: 10.2174/18743641-v16-e2206200

Abstract

Background:

The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that there are approximately 19 million visually impaired children worldwide, and most of the conditions are treatable by early intervention at the primary, secondary, and tertiary levels.

Objective:

To assess the status of paediatric eye care services in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Methods:

A cross-sectional study was conducted among eye care professionals (optometrists and ophthalmologists) in public sector hospitals in various regions of Saudi Arabia. Data were collected through an online self-administered paediatric eye care service questionnaire based on a validated questionnaire.

Results:

A total of 137 completed questionnaires were obtained, with a response rate of 83%. The highest percentage of trained paediatric teams at hospitals was recorded at 95% in the eastern region (p= 0.024), while the lowest percentage was 44% in the southern region. Trained paediatric nurses were available in 88% of the eastern region hospitals, followed by 56% of the central region hospitals (p= 0.001). Services such as separate paediatric optometry clinics, dedicated ophthalmology outpatient clinics, and advanced diagnostic equipment were significantly higher in number in the eastern region than in the other regions (p˂0.001). The general status of human resources of eye professionals reveals that 73% of the facilities had both trained optometrists and ophthalmologists, approximately 70.8% had anaesthesiologists available, and almost 73.7% had easy access to available paediatricians.

Conclusion:

The overall quality of paediatric eye-related health care is satisfactory in most Saudi regions. However, there are some discrepancies among the regions in paediatric eye care services and facility types, which may need to be addressed by decision-makers in the Ministry of Health.

Keywords: Childhood visual impairment, Eye care services, Blindness, Optometrist, Ophthalmologists, Vision problems.
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