Prevalence of Low Visual Acuity in Public School's Students from Brazil

  • The study indicates the existence of shortcomings in the early diagnosis of low visual acuity, as evidenced by its high prevalence registered among students without eyeglasses.

  • The study also suggests that such shortcomings are especially prejudicial to those without access to supplementary healthcare.

  • Study findings point towards a poor continuity of ophthalmologic care, as evidenced by the high prevalence of LVA among eyeglass wearers due to the inadequacy of their corrective lenses.


Objective: Low visual acuity (VA) is an important public health problem due to its high prevalence and because it needs early diagnosis in order to prevent damage in childhood development and apprenticeship.

Methods: Once performed the VA test to 1st and 4th grades primary school children data were analyzed by separating students according to sex, school grade, wearing of glasses, residence area and level of access to the supplementary medical assistance (SMA).

Results: The total of 9,640 students was evaluated during the year of 2000 and they presented a prevalence of low VA of 13.1% (CI 12.5-13.8%). There was a statistical significant lower prevalence in males (11.5%) compared to females (14.9%) – (PR=0.77). There was a statistical significant higher prevalence in 1st grade students (14.1%) compared to 4th grade (11.5%) – (PR=1.22). There was also a statistical significant lower prevalence for those who were not wearing glasses (12.1%) compared to those who were using glasses (42.0%) – (PR=0.29).

A positive correlation, according to residence area, between the proportion of people with access to the Supplementary Medical Assistance and the proportion of children wearing glasses was found

Conclusions: The low VA high prevalence shows lack in early diagnosis and continuity of assistance pointing out to the urgent need of implementation in public visual health.

Link to study in Portugese:

Publication date

March 19, 2015


Revista de Saude Publica


Reinaldo José Gianini
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