Prevalence of refractive errors in children of Puerto Rico

The aim of this quantitative descriptive study was to determine the prevalence of refractive errors in 5- to 17-year-old schoolchildren in Puerto Rico. Data was collected from 2016 to 2019, involving 2867 children from all educational regions. Refractive error was assessed through static and subjective refraction, and children with acuity issues underwent cycloplegic refraction. The results showed that 20.7% of children had myopia (spherical equivalent refractive error ≤ -0.50 D), which is one of the highest rates among similar-aged children worldwide. Myopia prevalence increased with age, while hyperopia and astigmatism prevalence remained relatively constant. Males had higher hyperopia, and females had a higher prevalence of myopia. The study highlights the importance of monitoring children's vision, especially given the increasing prevalence of myopia globally. Uncorrected refractive error (URE) can lead to visual impairments and is a significant cause of blindness. Identifying myopic children allows for the use of interventions to slow down myopia progression. The World Report on Vision emphasizes the need for integrated and patient-centered eye care services, which requires sound health policies based on clinical data on refractive error prevalence. This study contributes to the limited research on refractive errors in Spanish-speaking Caribbean countries and underscores the significance of genetics in refractive error prevalence.

Publication date

March 18, 2023


International Journal of Ophthalmology

Sponsor Institution

Lions Clubs International Foundation


Héctor C. Santiago, Mayra Rullán, Katerin Ortiz, Andrés Rivera, Mónica Nieves, José Piña, Zulmaris Torres, Yvette Mercado
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