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K. J. Saunders, L. O'Donoghue, J. F. McClelland, N. Logan; Uncorrected Childhood Refractive Error in the United Kingdom. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2009;50(13):2431.
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Although uncorrected refractive error is reported to be the most common cause of visual impairment in school-age children in industrialised and developing countries, little is known about the extent of the problem in the UK. This study aims to document visual impairment resulting from uncorrected refractive error in school-children in Northern Ireland.
Children aged 6-7 years and 12-13 years were recruited from a stratified random sample of schools. Participants were tested at school with consent from both the child and their parent/guardian. Measurements of LogMAR vision, visual acuity and cycloplegic autorefraction were taken. Spherical equivalent refraction was used to define myopia (≤-0.50DS) and hyperopia (≥+2.00DS). Astigmatism was defined as ≥1.00DC in either eye. History of spectacle wear was recorded.
Of those invited, 57% (n=398) of 6-7-year-olds and 60% (n=669) of 12-13-year-olds participated. Almost one in four children (23%; 95% CIs 18-29) who have been prescribed a spectacle correction do not bring their spectacles to school. For those with no history of current spectacle wear, one in ten have reduced vision. Reduced vision was defined as poorer than 0.2 LogMAR for 6-7-year-olds and poorer than 0.1 LogMAR for 12-13-year-olds. Uncorrected hyperopia and astigmatism are the main causes of reduced vision in 6-7-year-old children, and uncorrected myopia is the primary cause of reduced vision in 12-13-year-old children.
Uncorrected refractive error is a significant problem for school children in Northern Ireland. Many children who would benefit from spectacles do not have them and many who have been prescribed spectacles do not bring them to school with possible resulting educational implications. Exploration of cost-effective strategies to overcome the problem of uncorrected refractive error in Northern Irish school children is required.
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