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Indian Journal of Community Medicine

Refractive Errors Among Adolescents Attending Ophthalmology OPD

Author(s): S. Matta1, P. Matta2, V. Gupta2, A. Dev2

Vol. 31, No. 2 (2006-04 - 2006-06)


Refractive errors are second major cause of blindness1 in India and are also the commonest reason for patients, to consult ophthalmologists. It is estimated that there are 35 million people who need low, vision care in our country2. One group which requires considerable attention, are the adolescents. About 13% of Indian population is in the age group of 10-15 years1. Poor vision in childhood and adolescence affects performance in school and at work and may have a negative influence on the future life. Moreover diagnosis and treatment of refractive errors is one of the easiest ways to reduce impaired vision. The present study was done with the aim of assessing the prevalence of refractive errors among adolescents coming to ophthalmology out patient department (OPD) for eye ailments and also to study reading and writing habits among them.

Material and Methods

All adolescents coming to ophthalmology OPD, in the age group of 12-17 years for minor eye problems, were included in the study. The children were screened for refractive errors, and refraction under cycloplaegia was done for all the adolescents. Data on socio-demographic profile was collected with the help of a questionnaire. Overall 1000 children in the age group of 12-17 years were examined for refractive errors. After the child was checked for refractive errors, he/she was asked to read and write any material. Objective of this exercise was to assess whether the posture of the child was correct while reading and writing. Data was collected from January 2002 to July 2002 and was compiled / analyzed on Excel windows 98 (II version).

Results and Discussion

Among 1000 adolescents who were examined, 124 children were found to have refractive errors. The overall prevalence of refractive errors in our study was found to be 12.5%, which included myopia in 69 (55.6%) cases, hypermetropia in 16.9% cases and astigmatism in 27.4 %. These results are similar to the study carried out by Laatkeinen3. Another prominent finding in our study is that refractive errors increased with increasing age and this phenomena was observed in the age group of 10-14 years. A similar trend was seen in another study1. Refractive errors were more common among males as compared to females whereas in other studies4, they were found to be more common among females. While reading and writing, posture of 612 (61.2%) adolescents out of 1000 was found to be incorrect.

Conclusion and Suggestions

Prevalence of refractive errors varies depending upon population under study, and the age group under consideration. Majority of children, who were examined were in the age group of 12-15 years. It is during this period that the children are more at risk of developing refractive errors because of active growth and the strain of near work in the schools. They constitute the high-risk group for refractive errors. Importance of vision screening1 and periodic vision screening of school children has already been highlighted by the work of others. It is strongly suggested that health authorities should undertake measures like periodic vision screening of school children, which should be conducted from time to time. In the vision 2020: the right to sight2 programme, one of the five priority problems to be dealt is refractive error and low vision and the preventive intervention identified for tackling this problem is school eye screening programme for detection and correction of refractive errors, which is a vital step to control the problem under consideration. Schoolteachers are in excellent position to detect refractive errors among children. They should make sure that while reading and writing the posture of the child is correct. Basic knowledge regarding signs and symptoms of refractive errors should be given to children. Efforts should be made to make refractive services and corrective spectacles affordable and available to the adolescents through primary health care facilities, vision screening in schools and low cost production of spectacle.


  1. Sethi S, Kartha GP. Prevalence of refractive errors among school children (12-17years) of Ahmedabad city. Ind Journ Com Med, 2000; 25: 181-83.
  2. The principles and practice of Community Ophthalmology, National programme for control of blindness, Government of India, New Delhi Pg 239, 2002, Power printers, 2/8-A New Delhi.
  3. Krause VLF, Krause Kaisa, Paule R. Some differences in Refractive errors upto age of 15. Acta Ophthamol 1982; 60: 917-26.
  4. Tay MT et al. Myopic and educational attainment in 421116 young Singaporean males, Ann Acad Med, Singapore, 1992; 21:785-91.

Deptt of Community Medicine,
VMMC and Safdarjang Hospital, New Delhi.
Deptt. of Ophthalmology,
Deen Dayal Uphadhyay Hospital, New Delhi.
Received: 29.09.2004

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