Dr Okenwa-Vincent Emmanuel was awarded a PhD in Optometry for his study on Health-related quality of life and utility for uncorrected refractive errors (URE) amongst school going adolescents of Kakamega County in Kenya.
Supervised by Professor Peter Clarke-Farr and Dr Jyotikumarie Naidoo, the cross-sectional study involved secondary school adolescents aged from 13 to 25. Trained teachers screened students from Forms 1 to 4 for the presence of URE, who were then clinically examined by optometrists for URE type and dioptric strength. The screened participants were then classified into two groups, namely, URE and normal-sighted groups.
From those with URE, 165 participants were randomly selected following detailed cycloplegic and non-cycloplegic refraction and other ocular co-morbidities’ assessments. The selected participants were all issued with appropriate corrected spectacles.
Questionnaires were administered to determine all 330 participants’ sociodemographic, wellbeing and socioeconomic variables. Previously validated questionnaires were also employed to determine health-related quality of life (HRQoL) and utility (preference-based QoL) – both adolescent and adult specific algorithms.
‘The findings showed that participants’ HRQoL and utilities are affected by URE. This is worsened in the presence of identified confounding variables – less favorable socio-demographic, wellbeing and socioeconomic statuses,’ said Emmanuel.
‘The results also showed that spectacles significantly improve HRQoL and utilities among school-going adolescents with URE and that adult specific utility methodologies underestimate QoL preferences in the study participants.’
Emmanuel recommended that the public health approach to alleviate URE in school-going adolescents should incorporate QoL considerations and methodologies that involve and are specific to adolescents.
Words: Nombuso Dlamini