Visual Health and Visual Healthcare Access in Refugees and Displaced Persons: A Systematic Review
Vision impairment is a significant global health concern. Still, there remains a gap in our knowledge of visual health in refugees. We conducted a systematic review of the distinctive eye care needs of refugees. We screened PubMed, EMBASE, and Web of Science through February 17, 2017 for studies that focused primarily on visual health in refugees. Risk of bias was assessed using the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute quality assessment tools. 26 studies were included in the final review. The prevalence of blindness ranged from 1.3 to 26.2%. Trachoma was the leading infectious cause. Only four studies assessed vision-related care. Time/location of displacement, social unrest, and sanitation impacted severity of eye disease. Refugees have unique eye care needs. Public health interventions should target eye care at every stage of displacement. Providers may use these results to inform future research and improve visual healthcare access in refugee groups.
KeywordsVision refugees Refugee eye care Blindness refugee Vision displaced persons
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of interest
All authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.
This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.
- 5.Prisma. 2015. http://www.prisma-statement.org/. Accessed Feb 2017.
- 6.National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Study quality assessment tools. 2014. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-pro/guidelines/in-develop/cardiovascular-risk-reduction/tools. Accessed Feb 2017.
- 10.Pizzarello L. Xerophthalmia rates in Kampuchean refugees in Thailand. New York: Helen Keller International; 1980.Google Scholar
- 13.Awan HR, Ihsan T. Prevalence of vision impairment and eye diseases in Afghan refugees in Pakistan. East Mediterr Health J. 1998;4.Google Scholar
- 14.Parvez SZ. Eye camp for Afghan refugees at Jaluzai and Azakhel, Peshawar district, NWFP. J Pak Med Assoc. 1982;32(5):130.Google Scholar
- 15.Kawuma M. Eye diseases and blindness in Adjumani refugee settlement camps, Uganda. East Afr Med J. 2000;77(11):580–2.Google Scholar
- 16.Islam QU, Khan AA, Noor M, Malik SM. Magnitude of trachoma in medical camps at Darfur, Sudan. Pak Armed Forces Med J. 2012;62(2):72.Google Scholar
- 18.Wegesa P. The resettlement of refugees and onchocerciasis in Tanzania. East Afr Med J. 1968;45(5):251–3.Google Scholar
- 20.Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Infant lead poisoning associated with use of tiro, an eye cosmetic from Nigeria, 2011. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2012;61(30):574–6.Google Scholar
- 21.Schwarcz L, Begay CL, Chilton LA, Brian Shirley J, Seifert SA. Childhood lead exposure associated with the use of kajal, an eye cosmetic from Afghanistan. Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2013;62(46):917–9.Google Scholar
- 22.Khan MD, Kundi N, Mohammad Z, Nazeer AF, Gulab A. Ocular war trauma in Afghan refugees of Russian invasion. Pak J Ophthalmol. 1987;3(3):75–8.Google Scholar
- 30.Zeidan Z, Hashim K, Muhit MA, Gilbert C. Prevalence and causes of childhood blindness in camps for displaced persons in Khartoum: results of a household survey. East Mediterr Health J. 2007;13(3):580–5.Google Scholar
- 31.World Health Organization. WHO, UNICEF, IVACG Task Force on vitamin A supplements: a guide to their use in the treatment and prevention of vitamin A deficiency and xerophthalmia. Geneva: World Health Organization; 1997.Google Scholar
- 34.Brooks AM, Essex WB, West RH. Cysticercosis of the superior oblique muscle. Aust J Ophthalmol. 1983;11:119–122.Google Scholar