Refractive Error and Visual Impairment in African Children in South Africa

  • The purpose of this study was to evaluate the prevalence of refractive error and visual impairment in school-aged African children in South Africa.

  • A sample of children aged 5 to 15 years selected to participate in the study based on random selection of geographically defined in Durban.

  • A total of 5599 children living in 2712 households were selected and 4890 (87.3%) were examined.

  • The prevalence of uncorrected, presenting, and best-corrected visual acuity of 20/40 or worse in the better eye was 1.4%, 1.2%, and 0.32%, respectively.

  • Refractive error was the cause in 63.6% of the 191 eyes with reduced vision, amblyopia in 7.3%, retinal disorders in 9.9%, corneal opacity in 3.7%.

  • Exterior and anterior segment abnormalities were recognised in 528 (10.8%) children.

  • Myopia (at least −0.50 D) in one or both eyes was present in 2.9% of children when measured with retinoscopy and in 4.0% measured with autorefraction.

  • The prevalence of reduced vision is low in school-age African children, most of it because of uncorrected refractive error.

This article was identified as a reference for a VII-commissioned systematic review on the Impact of URE on Children.

Publication date

December 7, 2016


Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science


Naidoo, K.S., Raghunandan, A., Mashige, K.P., Govender, P., Holden, B.A., Pokharel, G.P. and Ellwein, L.B.
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