Burden of ocular abnormalities in patients with beta thalassaemia: A cross-sectional study

Document Type



Ophthalmology; Surgery; Pathology and Laboratory Medicine; Haematology/Oncology; Biological and Biomedical Sciences


Introduction: In Pakistan, the reported carrier rate of thalassaemia is estimated to be 5%-8% with 5000 new patients diagnosed every year. Several known systemic complications of beta thalassaemia major have been studied, but no studies are conducted to assess ocular complications among these patients from our population.
Methods: It was a cross-sectional study design conducted at three private and public sector centres in Pakistan. We recruited 203, 11-17 years old children with beta thalassaemia major in our study. Frequency of overall ocular complications such as retinal pigment epithelium degeneration, visual field defects, increased retinal vascular tortuosity, lenticular opacities, anterior segment abnormality, etc among beta thalassaemia patients were verified by an ophthalmologist.
Results: On univariate analysis male gender (prevalence ratio (PR): 1.023 (0.903 to 1.160), OGTT levels (PR: 0.99 (0.978 to 1.003) and serum calcium levels (PR: 0.716 (0.616 to 0.936)) were significantly associated with ocular complications. However, on multivariable analysis after adjusting for covariates we observed that the prevalence of ocular complications was 88% higher in males as compared with females. Moreover, with every one unit increase in serum calcium levels the prevalence of ocular complications were decreased by 24%.
Conclusion: Our study results showed that the frequency of ocular complications in beta thalassaemia children was 22.7%. Male gender was a risk factor for ocular complications among children with beta thalassaemia. However, high calcium levels among these patients were found to be protective for ocular complications.


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Publication (Name of Journal)

BMJ Open Ophthalmology