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Does Education Explain Ethnic Differences in Myopia Prevalence? A Population-Based Study of Young Adult Males in Singapore

Wu, Hui-Min MBBS, MSc; Seet, Benjamin FRCS(Edin), MPH; Yap, Eric Peng-Huat MBBS, PhD; Saw, Seang-Mei MPH, PhD; Lim, Tock-Han MMed, FRCS(Edin); Chia, and Kee-Seng MMed, MD

Optometry and Vision Science: April 2001 - Volume 78 - Issue 4 - p 234-239

Purpose. To study interethnic variation in myopia prevalence and severity in young adult males in Singapore and to determine whether these variations are related to differences in education level.

Methods. A population-based survey of refractive errors in a cohort of 15,095 military conscripts between July 1996 and June 1997 using noncycloplegic autorefraction and a standard questionnaire. Prevalence rates of myopia (<−0.5D) and severe myopia (<−6.0 D) were determined for Chinese, Malay, and Indian men; prevalence rate ratios were compared after adjusting for education level.

Results. Singapore has one of the highest prevalences of myopia (79.3%) and severe myopia (13.1%), with Chinese having higher rates (82.2%, 95% confidence interval 81.5, 82.9) compared with Indians (68.7%, 95% confidence interval 65.1, 67.1) and Malays (65.0%, 95% confidence interval 62.9, 67.1). Education was strongly associated with prevalence and severity of myopia. However, significant interethnic variation persisted after adjusting for education.

Conclusions. There is a high prevalence of myopia in Singapore. Although prevalence and severity of myopia were strongly associated with education, interethnic variation observed was not fully explained by differences in education level.

Defence Medical Research Institute, Singapore (H-MW, BS, EP-HY), Military Medicine Institute, Singapore Armed Forces, Singapore (BS), Department of Community, Occupation and Family Medicine, National University of Singapore (S-MS, K-SC), Department of Ophthalmology, Tan Tock Seng Hospital, Singapore (T-HL)

Hui-Min Wu

Defence Medical Research Institute

#02-04, Clinical Research Center

10 Medical Drive

Singapore 119206


© 2001 American Academy of Optometry