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Prevalence of refractive errors among school-going children in a multistate study in India

Joseph, E., Meena, C. K., Kumar, R. , Sebastian, M., Suttle, C. M. ORCID: 0000-0001-8694-195X, Congdon, N., Sethu, S., Murthy, G. V. S. & REACH Research Group (2022). Prevalence of refractive errors among school-going children in a multistate study in India. British Journal of Ophthalmology, 108(1), pp. 143-151. doi: 10.1136/bjo-2022-322123


Much existing data on childhood refractive error prevalence in India were gathered in local studies, many now dated. The aim of this study was to estimate the prevalence, severity and determinants of refractive errors among school-going children participating in a multistate vision screening programme across India.

In this cross-sectional study, vision screening was conducted in children aged 5–18 years at schools in five states using a pocket vision screener. Refractive error was measured using retinoscopy, and subjective refraction and was defined both by spherical equivalent (SE) and spherical ametropia, as myopia ≤−0.5 diopters (D), hyperopia ≥+1.0 D and/or astigmatism as >0.5 D. Data from the eye with less refractive error were used to determine prevalence.

Among 2 240 804 children (50.9% boys, mean age 11.5 years, SD ±3.3), the prevalence of SE myopia was 1.57% (95% CI 1.54% to 1.60%) at 5–9 years, 3.13% (95% CI 3.09% to 3.16%) at 10–14 years and 4.8% (95% CI 4.73% to 4.86%) at 15–18 years. Hyperopia prevalence was 0.59% (95% CI 0.57% to 0.61%), 0.54% (95% CI 0.53% to 0.56%) and 0.39% (95% CI 0.37% to 0.41%), respectively. When defined by spherical ametropia, these values for myopia were 0.84%, 2.50% and 4.24%, and those for hyperopia were 2.11%, 2.41% and 2.07%, respectively.
Myopia was associated with older age, female gender, private school attendance, urban location and state. The latter appeared to be driven by higher literacy rates.

Refractive error, especially myopia, is common in India. Differences in prevalence between states appear to be driven by literacy rates, suggesting that the burden of myopia may rise as literacy increases.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2022. Re-use permitted under CC BY-NC. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ. is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited, appropriate credit is given, any changes made indicated, and the use is non-commercial. See:
Subjects: R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
R Medicine > RE Ophthalmology
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Optometry & Visual Sciences
SWORD Depositor:
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