Prevalence of Uncorrected Refractive Errors among School-Aged Children in the School District of Philadelphia
Eileen L. Mayro, BA; Lisa A. Hark, PhD, RD; Eric Shiuey, MS; Michael Pond, BA; Linda Siam, BS; Marlee Silverstein, BA; Ann P. Murchison, MD, MPH; Alex V. Levin, MD, MHSc
Wills Eye Hospital
Philadelphia, PA, USA
Introduction: Uncorrected refractive error increases a child’s risk for visual, academic, and cognitive challenges. Conducting vision screening directly in schools has the potential to effectively reach underserved children. We developed an on-site pediatric vision screening program to detect and correct refractive errors and refer those with non-refractive eye disease to a pediatric ophthalmologist.
Methods: We screened 18,974 children in grades K-5 in Philadelphia public schools between January 2014 and June 2016. Children who failed the vision screening were examined by an on-site ophthalmologist or optometrist who determined whether the child’s decreased visual acuity could be corrected with eyeglasses.
Results: Of the 18,974 children screened, 2492 (13.1%) exhibited uncorrected refractive errors: 1776 (9.4%) children had myopia, 459 (2.4%) had hyperopia, and 1484 (7.8%) had astigmatism. Of the children screened, 846 (4.5%) exhibited uncorrected anisometropia. Of the 2492 children with uncorrected refractive error, 368 (14.8%) children had more than one refractive error diagnosis. Mild myopia (spherical equivalent of -0.50 D to < -3.00 D) was the most common diagnosis, present in 1573 (8.3%) children.
Discussion: We found mild myopia to be the most common uncorrected refractive error in our study population. Rates of uncorrected low astigmatism, anisometropia, mild hyperopia, emmetropia, high astigmatism, moderate myopia, and moderate hyperopia were also substantial, while rates of uncorrected high myopia and high hyperopia were very low.
Conclusion: Our data show that 13.1% of school-aged children in this population exhibited uncorrected refractive errors that caused suboptimal visual acuity. On-site vision screening programs may provide an avenue to identify and address uncorrected refractive errors.
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