Original Research

Visual impairment and refractive error amongst school-going children aged 6–18 years in Sekhukhune District (Limpopo, South Africa)

Tshubelela S.S. Magakwe, Zamadonda N.Q. Xulu-Kasaba, Rekha Hansraj
African Vision and Eye Health | Vol 79, No 1 | a551 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/aveh.v79i1.551 | © 2020 Tshubelela S.S. Magakwe, Zamadonda N.Q. Xulu-Kasaba, Rekha Hansraj | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 07 January 2020 | Published: 05 October 2020

About the author(s)

Tshubelela S.S. Magakwe, Department of Optometry, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Zamadonda N.Q. Xulu-Kasaba, Department of Optometry, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Rekha Hansraj, Department of Optometry, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: Refractive error (RE) and visual impairment (VI) remain major problems affecting school-going children worldwide.

Aim: To determine the prevalence and distribution of VI and RE in school-going children aged 6–18 years.

Setting: The study was conducted in Sekhukhune District, Limpopo, South Africa.

Methods: A multistage random sampling method was used to select school-going children aged 6–18 years from Grades 1 to 12. A total of 326 learners went through eye examinations, which included visual acuity (VA) measurement using a logarithm of the minimum angle of resolution chart, autorefraction under cycloplegia and ocular health assessment.

Results: The prevalence of uncorrected, presenting and best-corrected VA of 0.30 M or worse in the better eye was 12.3% (95% confidence interval [CI], 8.70–15.80), 12.3% (95% CI, 8.70–15.80) and 2.1% (95% CI, 0.60–3.70), respectively. Refractive error accounted for 80% (95% CI, 67.6–92.4) of all causes of VI. Myopia was the most prevalent RE (50.7%; 95% CI, 38.8–62.7), followed by astigmatism (36%; 95% CI, 24.3–47.3) and hypermetropia (13.6%; 95% CI, 5.30–21.6). There was no significant difference in the prevalence of RE and VI between males (50.7%; 95% CI, 38.8–62.7) and females (49.3%; 95% CI, 37.3–61.2). Refractive error and VI were higher amongst children aged 14–18 years: 56.7% (95% CI, 44.9–68.6) and 60% (95% CI, 44.8–75.20), respectively.

Conclusion: The prevalence of RE and VI amongst school-going children in Sekhukhune District was high, highlighting the need for school visual screening and strategies to address these conditions in that area.


Keywords

refractive error, visual impairment, myopia, hypermetropia, school-going children, learner eye health

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