Objective: To determine the prevalence of refractive errors among school children aged 6-18 years in the city of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Methods: A cross sectional study of refractive errors examined 1800 students in four randomly selected elementary schools during March, 2014. Subjects were selected by multistage random sampling. The children were examined by a team of ophthalmic nurses, optometrists and an ophthalmologist who performed visual acuity testing, cycloplegic refraction and slit lamp examination. Visual impairment was defined as V/A < 6/12.
Results: A total of 1800 (695 boys and 1105 girls) students were included in the study with a response rate of 99.4%. Refractive errors in either eye were 71 (4.0%) (95% CI 3.9-4.0). Of these myopia < 1.oD was found to be higher 19 (26.7%) cases followed by astigmatism >+ − 1.5D in 12 (17%) cases. Being female and the presence of other eye diseases increases the odds of refractive error.
Conclusion and recommendation: The prevalence of refractive errors in school children is significant in Addis Ababa, highlighting the need for school screening and optical intervention programs.
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