Purpose: To investigate the prevalence and type of high astigmatism among children aged 3 to 6 years in Guangxi, a relatively undeveloped province in western China, and to examine the correlation between astigmatism and visual acuity.
Methods: Children aged 3 to 6 years in Nanning, the capital of Guangxi Province, participated in a population-based survey using a cluster random sampling technique. Eye examinations included autorefraction, visual acuity measurements, and assessments of the external eye, anterior segment, media, and fundus. Data for the right eyes were analyzed.
Results: Among the 2304 children examined, the overall prevalence of high astigmatism (≥1.25 diopters by noncycloplegic SureSight autorefraction) was 12.7% (95% confidence interval, 11.3 to 14.0%). The age-specific prevalences of high astigmatism in 3-, 4-, 5-, and 6-year-old children were 13.8, 13.2, 12.9, and 8.1%, respectively. The prevalence of high astigmatism did not vary with age or gender (p > 0.05). The majority of cases of high astigmatism were with-the-rule astigmatism (82.9%), followed by against-the-rule (12.6%) and oblique (4.5%) astigmatism. A linear correlation was found between astigmatism magnitude and visual acuity (logMAR acuity = 0.068 + 0.055 × astigmatism) in all participants. Multiple linear regression analysis further showed that the correlation of astigmatism with visual acuity was magnitude dependent (β = 0.240). When with-the-rule astigmatism was used as a reference group, against-the-rule astigmatism (β = 0.137) and oblique astigmatism (β = 0.154) were closely correlated with visual acuity.
Conclusions: High astigmatism was moderately prevalent among children aged 3 to 6 years in Guangxi Province. With-the-rule astigmatism was the dominant form of astigmatism. Magnitude- and orientation-dependent correlations of astigmatism with visual acuity were confirmed.