Background: In spite of recent increases in the number of surgeries carried out within some hospitals and programmes in sub-Saharan Africa, there are indications that the acceptance of cataract surgery remains quite low.
Methods: We conducted a population-based prospective (cohort) study of cataract patients from 12 villages in Hai district of Kilimanjaro region, Tanzania. Those identified with operable cataract were informed of the regular community programmes (within 5 km) in place providing transportation and high-quality surgery. At years 1 and 2 after the survey, we traced the patients to determine uptake of cataract surgery.
Results: Among patients eligible for surgery (128), 31 could not be followed up after 1 year due to deaths, moving, and refusal. Among the remaining patients, 18 accepted surgery in the first year and four accepted in the second year. Among these 22 patients, only five were blind or with severe visual impairment. The most elderly were those least likely to accept surgery.