The prevalence of refractive errors among schoolchildren in Dezful, Iran

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To determine the prevalence of refractive errors among schoolchildren in urban and rural areas of Dezful County, Iran.


In a cross-sectional study, using random cluster sampling, 5721 Dezful schoolchildren were selected from 39 clusters. The participants in the study totalled 5544; 3673 elementary and middle school students and 1871 high school students. For the former group, cycloplegic refraction and for the latter, non-cycloplegic refraction was tested. In all participants, uncorrected visual acuity and best corrected visual acuity were determined, and those with a visual acuity of 20/40 or worse, underwent a complete ophthalmic examination to determine the cause of visual impairment. A spherical equivalent of −0.5 diopter (D) or worse was defined as myopia, +2.0 D or more was defined as hyperopia, and a cylinder refraction greater than 0.75 D was considered astigmatism.


The uncorrected visual acuity was 20/40 or worse in the better eye of 224 schoolchildren (3.8% of participants). This figure (percentage) was 14 (0.03%) based on their best corrected visual acuity and 96 (1.7%) with their presenting vision. According to results of cycloplegic refraction, 3.4% (95% confidence interval (CI), 2.5 to 4.4) of the primary and middle school students were myopic and 16.6% (95% CI, 13.6 to 19.7) were hyperopic. For high school students, these rates were 2.1% (95% CI, 0.7 to 3.5) and 33.0% (95% CI, 24.9 to 41.1), respectively, with non-cycloplegic refraction. In the multivariate logistic regression for primary and middle school students, myopia was correlated with age (p = 0.030), and hyperopia was correlated with age (p<0.001) and area of residence (p = 0.007). In high school students, hyperopia again showed a correlation with their area of residence (p = 0.029).


The present study reveals the considerable prevalence rates of refractive errors among schoolchildren in Dezful County and the high rate of an unmet need for their correction. Although myopia is not very prevalent, the high rate of hyperopia in the studied population emphasises its need for attention.

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