Prevalence of myopia among urban and suburban school children in Tamil Nadu, South India: findings from the Sankara Nethralaya Tamil Nadu Essilor Myopia (STEM) Study

  • The purpose of the study is to report the baseline prevalence of myopia among school children in Tamil Nadu, South India from a prospective cohort study.

  • Children between the ages of 5 and 16 years from 11 schools in two districts of Tamil Nadu underwent vision screening. All children underwent visual acuity assessment using a Pocket Vision Screener followed by non-cycloplegic open-field autorefraction (Grand Seiko WAM-5500). 

  • Myopia was defined as a spherical equivalent (SE) refraction of ≤−0.75 D and high myopia was defined as SE ≤ −6.00 D. Distribution of refraction, biometry and factors associated with prevalence of myopia were the outcome measures.

  • A total of 14,699 children completed vision screening, with 2% (357) of them having ocular abnormalities other than refractive errors or poor vision despite spectacle correction. 

  • The remaining 14,342 children (7557 boys; 52.69%) had a mean age of 10.2 (Standard Deviation [SD] 2.8) years. A total of 2502 had myopia in at least one eye, a prevalence of 17.5% (95% CI: 14.7–20.5%), and 74 (0.5%; 95% CI: 0.3–0.9%) had high myopia. 

  • Myopia prevalence increased with age (p < 0.001), but sex was not associated with myopia prevalence (p = 0.24). Mean axial length (AL; 23.08 (SD = 0.91) mm) and mean anterior chamber depth (ACD; 3.45 (SD = 0.27) mm) positively correlated with age (p < 0.001). 

  • The mean flat (K1; 43.37 (SD = 1.49) D) and steep (K2; 44.50 (SD = 1.58) D) corneal curvatures showed negative correlation with age (p = 0.02 and p < 0.001, respectively). In the multivariable logistic regression, older age and urban school location had higher odds for prevalence of myopia.

  • The baseline prevalence of myopia among 5- to 16-year-old children in South India is larger than that found in previous studies, indicating that myopia is becoming a major public health problem in this country.

Publication date

March 25, 2022


Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics

Sponsor Institution

Essilor International, Singapore


Aparna Gopalakrishnan, Jameel Rizwana Hussaindeen, Viswanathan Sivaraman, Meenakshi Swaminathan, Yee Ling Wong, James A Armitage, Alex Gentle, Simon Backhouse
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