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B. M. Junghans, S. Azizoglu, A. Barutchu, S. G. Crewther; Evidence for Education Style as a Predictor of Refractive Error Amongst Students of Middle Eastern Background Living in Urban Australia. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2009;50(13):2434.
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Little data exists on the prevalence of refractive errors among children of Middle Eastern background outside of their homeland. However we recently suggested that lifestyle and education are strong predictors of adolescent refractive error. Thus this study aimed to determine the prevalence of refractive errors in ethnic Middle Eastern children living in urban Australia in a school that follows the state curriculum.
A total of 354 schoolchildren (92.2% participation) aged 10 to 15 years (school Years 6, 7, 8 and 9) attending a private school in Melbourne were assessed for refractive error. The assessment included visual acuity and non cycloplegic open-field autorefraction determined from the mean of ten readings taken in rapid succession on the Shin Nippon NVision-K 5001 autorefractor while viewing a target beyond 6 meters.
All children identified themselves to be of Middle Eastern (96.3%) or Egyptian (3.7%) background and were bilingual, with Arabic the other language spoken and taught at school. The mean age was 13.17±0.10 years. Mean spherical equivalent refraction (SER) for the right eye was +0.089 ±0.74D (SEM) with a range from -7.77D to +5.85D. The prevalence of myopia defined as SER ≤ -0.50D was 14.7%. The prevalence of hyperopia, defined as SER ≥ +0.75D, was 16.4%. The degree of hyperopic refraction decreased with age as the degree of myopic refraction increased (F(4, 330)=11.55, p<0.001). Mean cylindrical power was 0.54±0.03DC (range 0.00 to -3.12) and nearly 11% had no astigmatism.
As the first study to report the prevalence of myopia and hyperopia for second-generation Australian schoolchildren coming from predominantly Lebanese Middle Eastern Arabic backgrounds, we can report that the relatively low prevalence of myopia is similar to that found for other Australian school children coming from the metropolitan area of Sydney and supports our hypothesis that lifestyle and educational practices may be of significant influence.
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