Ocular Findings in a Brazilian Rural Slave-Descendant Community: Eye Health in Quilombos

Eye health in quilombos


  • Vladimir Fontes de Oliveira
  • Kleper Carvalho de Figueiredo Leitão
  • Luiz Augusto Pereira da Costa Carvalho
  • Ana Carolina Vieira Peixoto de Lucena
  • Luiz Carlos de Abreu Faculdade de Medicina do ABC. Departamento de Saúde da Coletividade. Disciplina de Metodologia Científica.
  • Ricardo Peres do Souto




Eye Care; Visually Impaired Persons; Minority Health; Healthcare Disparities; Vulnerable Populations; Pterygium.


Purpose: To report ophthalmological findings from one quilombo remnant population, a Brazilian marginalized rural and slave-descendant community.

Methods: Descriptive study of eye health from one of the largest quilombo communities in Brazil, located in Conceição das Crioulas, Pernambuco. Ophthalmic exam including visual acuity, refractive examination, biomicroscopy, fundus examination, tonometry and pachymetry was performed in a convenience sample of 255 residents over 40 years-old, representing approximately one third of the population in this age range.

Results: Half of the subjects had never been examined by an ophthalmologist in their lives. Blindness was identified in 6.7% of participants and low vision in 8.6%. Visual impairment was caused mainly by cataract and uncorrected refractive errors. Cataract was found in 27.3% of subjects. Ametropia was documented in 71% of participants and the most prevalent refraction error was hyperopia. Prevalence of glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration were respectively 5.4% and 1.9%. Pterygium was detected in 26.7% of participants. Correcting lenses were prescribed to 57.4% of individuals, 5.5% were referred for surgery, 2.7% to specialized clinics and 1.2% to additional tests.

Conclusions: Blindness, cataract and pterygium were highly frequent in quilombo residents, and distribution of other ocular diseases were close to average published rates. Data collected may help planning preventive and promotive actions for eye health of socioeconomic disadvantaged quilombo populations.


Keywords: Eye care, visually impaired persons, minority health; healthcare disparities; vulnerable populations, pterygium







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