Prevalence of Refractive Error and Spectacle Coverage in Schoolchildren in Two Urban Areas of Chile

  • This study aims to assess the impact of efforts to reduce visual impairment by detecting and treating refractive errors (REs) among schoolchildren in two urban areas of Chile (Concepción and LaFlorida).

  • A multicenter, multistage-sampling, cross-sectional study employing methods used by the Refractive Error Study in Children (RESC) survey was conducted in 2013 with 5,412 schoolchildren,.

  • Best-corrected visual acuity was assessed using pinhole, with and without glasses.

  • The coverage for correcting visual impairment due to refractive error was estimated.

  • Uncorrected visual acuity (VA) of > 0.63 in at least one eye was found in 4,721 children (87.23%; 95% confidence interval (CI): 86.58%–88.30%).

  • Of the remaining children, 1,017 of them (18.79%; 95% CI: 17.78%–19.80%) had a VA of < 0.5 in at least one eye.

  • Of the 691 children with uncorrected visual impairment with both eyes open (12.77%; 95% CI: 11.9%–13.64%), 476 of them (8.76%; 95% CI: 8.03%–9.49%) achieved normal vision using best possible correction, and with 271 of the 476 (56.93%) having a normal presenting VA in the better eye.

  • The study found an increased coverage of services for RE-associated visual impair­ment and an increased percentage of children wearing glasses as compared to values reported for La Florida in an article published in 2000. The National Board of School Aid and Scholarships (JUNAEB) in Chile is achieving better results in its schoolchildren eye care program.

Publication date

October 12, 2018


Pan American Journal of Public Health

Sponsor Institution

Chile’s Fondo Nacional de Investigación y Desarrollo en Salud (FONIS), Junta Nacional de Auxilio Escolar y Becas (JUNAEB) in Chile, Ministry of Health of Chile, and the Pan American Health Organization


Fernando Barria, Francisco Conte, Sergio Muñoz, Janet L. Leasher, and Juan Carlos Silva
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