Objectives: To determine the prevalence and pattern of significant refractive errors in rural primary school children.
Design: Cross sectional community based study.
Setting: Nine primary schools from Muluma, Kasinje and Bunyenga education zones in Ntcheu district, Malawi.
Subjects: One thousand two hundred and seventy eight primary school pupils aged 12 – 15 years from rural non boarding primary schools.
Results: The prevalence of significant refractive errors was 2.4% (31/1278) with hypermetropia accounting for 1.4%, myopia 0.8% and astigmatism 0.1%. Female pupils were more hyperopic (58%) while myopia risk was significantly associated with a male gender (70% in boys and 30% in girls).
Conclusion: The prevalence of significant refractive errors is very low in a rural Malawi setting to justify a regular eye screening programme in primary schools.
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