Original Research

Prevalence of vision impairment and refractive error in school learners in Calabar, Nigeria

Anne E. Ebri, Pirindhavellie Govender, Kovin S. Naidoo
African Vision and Eye Health | Vol 78, No 1 | a487 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/aveh.v78i1.487 | © 2019 Anne E. Ebri, Pirindhavellie Govender, Kovin S. Naidoo | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 11 November 2018 | Published: 23 September 2019

About the author(s)

Anne E. Ebri, Brien Holden Vision Institute, Sydney, Australia; and, Department of Public Health, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Pirindhavellie Govender, Brien Holden Vision Institute, Sydney, Australia; and, Department of Public Health, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Kovin S. Naidoo, Department of Optometry, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa; and, Department of Optometry, University of New South Wales, Kensington, Australia, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: Uncorrected refractive error could negatively affect learning and academic performance, there is still inadequate information for planning school health.

Aim: To determine the proportion of students with vision impairment because of uncorrected refractive error, and prevalent types among learners aged 10–18 years.

Setting: The study site included two of 18 local government areas of the Cross River State in Nigeria, with 23 public and mission secondary schools.

Methods: A two-stage cluster sampling method was used to enrol 4241 study participants from eight selected secondary schools.

Results: The prevalence of vision impairment (presenting visual acuity worse than 6/12) was 7.9% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 7.17% – 8.6%). The prevalence of vision impairment because of refractive error was 7.2% (95% CI: 6.41% – 7.96%) in the better eye. Astigmatism was the predominant type of refractive error with a prevalence of 4.2% (95% CI: 3.6% – 4.8%), followed by myopia (1.72%; 95% CI: 1.3% – 2.1%) and hyperopia (1.3%; 95% CI: 0.9% – 1.6%). There were statistically significant differences in proportions of female participants who presented with myopic astigmatism (30.8%; p < 0.012). Statistically significant difference in proportions was found in older (33.3%; p < 0.0004) and male (29.6%; p < 0.0003) participants who presented with hyperopic astigmatism compared to younger and female participants, respectively. Myopia accounted for 4.8% (95% CI: 4.2% – 5.5%) and was significantly higher in female participants (5.5%; p < 0.033).

Conclusion: Refractive error was the major cause of vision impairment and myopic astigmatism was the predominant type of refractive error among secondary school children in Calabar.


Keywords

vision impairment; school refractive errors; school myopia; school astigmatism; school children

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