This study is the first to report high rates of uncorrected vision conditions among Australian secondary schoolchildren living in a rural area and to comment on the rate of eye examinations undertaken on Australian Indigenous children. Uncorrected vision problems that continue throughout the school years have significant implications for children's quality of life and education.
This study aimed to investigate the prevalence of uncorrected vision conditions among Australian schoolchildren.
Participants included 280 students from rural primary and secondary schools (aged 4 to 18 years), of whom 40% identified as being of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander descent (Indigenous). All participants underwent an eye examination including measurements of monocular distance and near visual acuity, assessment of accommodative and vergence function, stereoacuity, color vision, and cycloplegic autorefraction. A parental questionnaire was used to determine whether the child had previously had his/her eyes examined.
The overall prevalence of uncorrected vision conditions in this population was 35%. The odds of previously having had an eye examination were 2.3× higher for non-Indigenous compared with Indigenous children despite both groups exhibiting high rates of uncorrected vision conditions (Indigenous, 31 [29%]; non-Indigenous, 66 [40%]; χ21 = 3.24, P = .07). Of the children who had significant refractive error (Indigenous, 23 [21%]; non-Indigenous, 49 [30%]; χ21 = 2.70, P = .10), 82% were uncorrected, and only 39% of Indigenous children and 54% of non-Indigenous children had previously had an eye examination.
These findings suggest that high rates of uncorrected vision conditions are present among Australian primary and secondary schoolchildren from a rural area and highlight that Indigenous children are much less likely to have had an eye examination. Understanding factors that affect the rate of eye examinations and compliance with spectacle correction must be addressed given the potential impact of these vision conditions.