Purpose: To determine the prevalence of ocular morbidity and refractive error among the children of the squatter settlements in Kathmandu.
Methods: A cross-sectional study was carried out at five squatter settlement areas at Kathmandu, including 366 children younger than 16 years. Detailed eye examination included the visual acuity testing, cycloplegic refraction, binocular vision assessment, anterior segment examination, and posterior segment examination. Variations in age, sex, and ethnic distribution of the study population were analyzed through analysis of variance. Pearson χ2 test with Yate correction was used to analyze different types of ocular morbidity. Pearson correlation coefficient test was performed to correlate refractive error in the right eye and the left eye.
Results: Majority of children (28.9%) belonged to the age group 8 to 10 years, and most of them belonged to the Manohara settlement area (40.2%). Male-female ratio was 0.7. Uncorrected and best-corrected visual acuity of better than or equal to 6/9 in at least one eye was found in 87.9% and 99.0% children, respectively. Total ocular morbidity was observed in 33.7%. The common type of ocular morbidity was conjunctivitis (11.2%), refractive error (9.0%), and blepharitis (5.4%). Ocular morbidity was common in infants (57.9%; p = 0.043; odds ratio, 2.8) and 14- to 15-year-old children (52.8%; p = 0.002; odds ratio, 2.5).
Conclusions: Ocular infection and refractive error represent the common ocular morbidity in children living in squatter settlements.