Use of Traditional Eye Medicine and Self-Medication in Rural India: A Population-Based Study

Citation: Gupta N, Vashist P, Tandon R, Gupta SK, Kalaivani M, Dwivedi SN (2017) Use of traditional eye medicine and self-medication in rural India: A population-based study. PLoS ONE12(8): e0183461. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0183461
Published: August 22, 2017

Abstract
Objective: To determine the type and nature of traditional eye medicine (TEM), their sources and use and practices related to self-medication for ophthalmic diseases in a rural Indian population.
Methods: A population-based, cross-sectional study was conducted in 25 randomly selected clusters of Rural Gurgaon, Haryana, India as part of CORE (Cornea Opacity Rural Epidemiological) study. In addition to comprehensive ophthalmic examination, health-seeking behavior and use of self-medication and TEM was assessed in the adult population using a semi-structured questionnaire. Physical verification of available ophthalmic medications in the enumerated households was conducted by the study team. Descriptive statistics were computed along with multivariable logistic regression analysis to determine associated factors for use of self-medication and TEM.
Results: Of the 2160 participants interviewed, 396 (18.2%) reported using ophthalmic medications without consulting an ophthalmologist, mainly for symptoms like watering (37.1%), redness (27.7%), itching (19.2%) and infection (13.6%). On physical verification of available eye drops that were being used without prescription, 26.4% participants were practicing self-medication. Steroid, expired/unlabeled and indigenous eye drops were being used by 151(26.5%), 120(21.1%) and 75 (13.2%) participants respectively. Additionally, 25.7% (529) participants resorted to home remedies like ‘kajal’(61.4%), honey (31.4%), ghee (11.7%) and rose water (9.1%).
Conclusion: Use of TEM is prevalent in this population. The rampant use of steroid eye drops without prescription along with use of expired or unlabelled eye drops warrants greater emphasis on safe eye care practices in this population. Public awareness and regulatory legislations must be implemented to decrease harmful effects arising due to such practices.

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