Astigmatism in Chinese preschool children: prevalence, change, and effect on refractive development

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Abstract

Aim:

To study the prevalence, type, and progression of astigmatism in Chinese preschool children, and its effect on refractive development.

Methods:

A cross sectional study of preschool children was carried out in two randomly selected kindergartens. A cohort study was performed on a subset of children, five years after initial examination. Refractive error (measured by cycloplegic autorefraction) and axial ocular dimensions (measured by ultrasonography) were the main study outcomes.

Results:

522 children participated in the study; the mean age was 55.7 months (SD 10.9; range 27 to 77). Mean cylinder reading was −0.65 D (SD 0.58; range 0.00 to −4.75), and with the rule astigmatism was predominant (53%). In the 108 children studied longitudinally, the mean cylinder reading reduced from −0.62 D to −0.50 D (p = 0.019). The presence of astigmatism in initial examination predisposed the eyes towards greater myopisation (p<0.001). In addition, children with increased astigmatism had greater myopic progression (p<0.001) and axial length growth (p = 0.002).

Conclusions:

This study reports a high prevalence of astigmatism in Chinese preschool children. The presence of astigmatism, and particularly with increasing astigmatism, appears to predispose the children to progressive myopia. Further studies are warranted.

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