Screening of visual disorders among high school students without expressed complaint

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Many students understate their visual discomfort, although it may have an educational impact. We studied the prevalence of visual disorders among students without self-reported complaints.


Four hundred students between 15 and 22 years of age responded to a questionnaire followed by a visual screening (refraction and binocular vision) in order to detect any visual discomfort that they might be unaware of. When visual problems were detected, the participants were suggested to have an ophthalmology and orthoptic assessment.


Visual disorders were found in 346 students. Thirty-two percent of them agreed to have an ophthalmology and orthoptic assessment. Best-corrected visual acuity was 20/20 in more than 95% of them. Nearly 60% were hyperopes, from which more than two thirds required an optical correction. Over or under-corrected myopia and uncorrected astigmatism were uncommon. Convergence insufficiency was found in 80%, and only a few ophthalmologic pathologies were diagnosed.


Many students have vision problems to which they are accustomed. It was rare to find underlying ophthalmologic pathologies (strabismus, nystagmus, …). In most cases, these functional symptoms are due to under-corrected hyperopia, possibly associated with convergence insufficiency. As visual demand is lower during primary education, some visual discomfort may only become symptomatic during the following years. However, the nature of these disorders suggests that they may interfere with education. We are now investigating the prevalence of learning difficulties among these participants, and whether there is an improvement after intervention.

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