Prevalence of Uncorrected Refractive Errors Among School-Age Children in the School District of Philadelphia

  • The purpose of this study is to determine the prevalence and severity of uncorrected refractive errors in school-age children attending Philadelphia public schools.

  • The Wills Eye Vision Screening Program for Children is a community-based pediatric vision screening program designed to detect and correct refractive errors and refer those with nonrefractive eye diseases for examination by a pediatric ophthalmologist.

  • Between January 2014 and June 2016 the program screened 18,974 children in grades K-5 in Philadelphia public schools.

  • Children who failed the vision screening were further examined by an on-site ophthalmologist or optometrist; children whose decreased visual acuity was not amenable to spectacle correction were referred to a pediatric ophthalmologist.

  • Of the 18,974 children screened, 2,492 (13.1%) exhibited uncorrected refractive errors: 1,776 (9.4%) children had myopia, 459 (2.4%) had hyperopia, 1,484 (7.8%) had astigmatism, and 846 (4.5%) had anisometropia.

  • Of the 2,492 with uncorrected refractive error, 368 children (14.8%) had more than one refractive error diagnosis.

  • In stratifying refractive error diagnoses by severity, mild myopia (spherical equivalent of −0.50 D to < −3.00 D) was the most common diagnosis, present in 1,573 (8.3%) children.

  • In this urban population 13.1% of school-age children exhibited uncorrected refractive errors.

Publication date

February 20, 2020


Journal of American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus


Eileen L. Mayro, BA,a,b Lisa A. Hark, PhD, RD,a,c Eric Shiuey, MS,a Michael Pond, BA,a Linda Siam, BS,a Tamara Hill-Bennett, OD,a Judie Tran, BS,a Nitasha Khanna, MD,d Marlee Silverstein, BA,b James Donaghy, LDO,a Tingting Zhan, PhD,e Ann P. Murchison, MD, MPH,a,b and Alex V. Levin, MD, MHSc
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