Common Eye diseases in Uganda

1. Cataract

Cataract is a condition of total opacity / cloudiness of natural crystalline lens where by the vision decreases. Cataracts are most commonly due to aging and also other factors like injuries, exposure to radiation, due to other eye surgeries, smoking tobacco, alcohol, diabetes, over exposure to sunlight.

As the cataract grows the light transmission to the retina reduces when it is totally matured the light cannot reach retina resulting in total loss of vision.

Prevention: can be prevented certain extent by wearing sunglasses, by stopping smoking and not taking alcohol and proper management of diabetes Etc.

But after cataract surgery you can recover your vision by implanting artificial lens or by wearing corrective eye glasses. Getting the quality vision is purely depend upon the eye conditions and the efficiency of ophthalmic surgeon.

2. Trachoma

Trachoma is an infectious disease caused by bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis. The infection causes a roughening of the inner surface of the eyelids. This roughening can lead to pain in the eyes, breakdown of the outer surface or cornea of the eyes, and eventual blindness. Untreated, repeated trachoma infections can result in a form of permanent blindness when the eyelids turn inward.

This can be prevented by improving the living conditions like clean environment, clean water and treating with antibiotics. Mostly children are affected. Timely medical intervention can cure this disease. Since it is a contagious disease patient should not come in contact with others and should not use his used items like towels, soaps etc.

3. Pterygium

Pterygium is a pinkish, triangular tissue growth on the cornea of the eye. It typically starts on the cornea near the nose. It may slowly grow but rarely grows so large that the pupil is covered. Mostly people living in dusty environment and exposed to sunshine are affected irrespective of gender and age.

The cause is partly related to long term exposure to UV light and dust. At times it could be hereditary.

Prevention may include wearing sunglasses and a hat if in an area with strong sunlight. Among those with the condition, an eye lubricant can help with symptoms. Surgical interference is recommended if it is encroaching cornea and the ability to see is affected.

4. Allergic or Viral Conjuctivitis or pink eyes

Conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye, is inflammation of the outermost layer of the white part of the eye called conjunctiva. It makes the eye appear pink or reddish. There may also be pain, burning, tearing, scratchiness, or itchiness. Swelling of the white part of the eye may also occur. Itching of the eye is more common in cases due to allergies. Conjunctivitis can affect one or both eyes.

Children are the one mostly affected. This can occur due to conditions like bad weather and allergy. Conjunctivitis can occur due to bacteria and allergies. Personal hygiene also very important. If not treated in time may end up with corneal ulcers which in turn make the cornea opaque and block the light transmission to retina and cause blindness.

Improving the weather conditions, personal hygiene and treatment can cure this disease.

5. Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a condition where intra ocular pressure rises due to various reasons thus damaging the optic nerve which carries the images to brain. . In the early stages it will not show any signs and symptoms but all of sudden the eye pressure may increase which will damage the optic nerve thus causing unreversable blindness. Initially people will complain pain in the eyes, haloes around the light, light sensitiveness called photophobia, frequent changes in the reading prescription, constant headache at later stage redness, severe pain partial loss of vision will follow. First it will affect the peripheral field of vision and gradually will affect central vision or the total vision. Usually this is hereditary and also associated with high blood pressure. In East Africa most of the people are getting affected.

Whoever has above symptoms irrespective of age and gender it is advisable to rule out at the earliest.

So early you prevent or early you manage it is better for the eyes. This is the most dangerous disease which can lead to unreversable blindness.

Treatment methods include medication and surgery.

6. Refractive errors

Refractive errors occur when the shape of the eye prevents light from focusing directly on the retina.

The common causes for refractive errors as follows;

Causes: Length of the eyeball, curvature of the cornea or crystalline lens and index of the eyeball.

Since it is hereditary it is important for the parents to take the children for eye examination every year .It is very essential to observe the visual behavior of children by parents as it can affect the curriculum of children. Especially children below the age group of six cannot complain to the parents. Hence it is advisable to observe the signs like constantly rubbing the eyes, sitting close to the TV or holding a book very close to the face, missing letters while reading and writing.

The most common types of refractive errors are myopia, hyperopia, presbyopia, and astigmatism.

Symptoms: Blurred vision is the most common symptom of refractive errors. Other symptoms may include: Double vision

• Haziness
• Glare or halos around bright lights
• Squinting
• Headaches
• Eye strain

Detection: An eye care professional can diagnose refractive errors during a comprehensive dilated eye examination. People with a refractive error often visit their eye care professional with complaints of visual discomfort, blurred vision, eye strain, headache etc. However, some people don’t know they aren’t seeing as clearly as they could.


Myopia (nearsightedness) is a condition where objects far away appear blurry but up close appear clear. In simple words myopic people cannot see distant objects clearly but will have no problem looking at near objects including reading and writing. With myopia, light comes to focus in front of the retina instead of on the retina.


Hypermetropia (farsightedness) is a refractive error where distant objects may be seen more clearly than objects that are near. However, people experience hypermetropia differently. Some people may not notice any problems with their vision, especially when they are young. For people with significant hypermetropia, vision can be blurry for objects distance and near also.


Astigmatism is a condition in which the eye does not focus light evenly onto the retina, the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. This can cause images to appear blurry and stretched out.


Presbyopia is an age-related condition in which the ability to focus up close becomes more difficult. As the eye ages, the lens can no longer change shape enough to allow the eye to focus close objects clearly. Usually at the age of 40 years people will have this refractive error.


Refractive errors can be corrected with eyeglasses, contact lenses, or surgery.

Eyeglasses are the simplest and safest way to correct refractive errors. Your eye care professional can prescribe appropriate lenses to correct your refractive error and give you optimal vision.

Contact Lenses work by becoming the first refractive surface for light rays entering the eye, causing a more precise refraction or focus. In many cases, contact lenses provide clearer vision, a wider field of vision, and greater comfort. They are a safe and effective option if fitted and used properly. It is very important to wash your hands and clean your lenses as instructed in order to reduce the risk of infection. If you have certain eye conditions you may not be able to wear contact lenses. Discuss this with your eye care professional.

Refractive Surgery aims to change the shape of the cornea permanently. This change in eye shape restores the focusing power of the eye by allowing the light rays to focus precisely on the retina for improved vision. There are many types of refractive surgeries. Your eye care professional can help you decide if surgery is an option for you.

7. Photophobia

Photophobia is a symptom of abnormal intolerance to visual perception of light. As a medical symptom, photophobia is not a morbid fear or phobia, but an experience of discomfort or pain to the eyes due to light exposure or by presence of actual physical sensitivity of the eyes, though the term is sometimes additionally applied to abnormal or irrational fear.

The most common eye problem found in Uganda is photophobia. Due to very close the equator there is lot of bright light and UV radiation which is affecting the eyes. People will complain pain in the eyes, light sensitiveness which makes them to work difficult in bright lit offices and on electronic devices such as laptops, computers and smartphones.

Sometimes photophobia also experienced in cases of eye infections, eye diseases such as Glaucoma, iridocyclitis and refractive errors.

Treatment: To consult Optometrist or Ophthalmologist for detailed eye examination.

Sunglasses or Photochromic corrective lenses if required.

2 thoughts on “Common Eye diseases in Uganda”

    • Hello, Please come in for an eyecheckup at any of our branches. Please note eyecheck up at our branches is free of charge. Please do not delay. Your eyes are precious.


Leave a comment