REFRACTIVE ERRORS IN SCHOOL-AGE CHILDREN AS DIAGNOSED AT ARTHUR DAVISON CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL EYE CLINIC DEPARTMENT
Keywords:Refractive error, Myopia, Hyperopia, Astigmatism, School age children
Background:Refractive errors affect a significant proportion of the world’s population, affecting both genders and all ages. As the WHO Press Release said on October 12th2005, that without an eye examination and the appropriate pair of spectacles “millions of children arelosing educational opportunities, and adults are excluded from productive working lives, withsevere economic and social consequences. Individuals and families are frequently pushedinto a cycle of deepening poverty because of their inability to see well.”A total of 76 facilities offer eye health services in Zambia.In the whole of Zambia there are currently only 18 ophthalmologists, eight cataract surgeons and 19 optometrists which translates to one ophthalmologist for every 725,000 Zambians and one clinical officer for every 373,000 population. The aim of this research is to determine the proportion and frequency of the different types of refractive errors and establish the sex and age group mostly prone to refractive errors, and if possible make recommendations on how to improve the management of refractive errors in school age children.Methods: The survey was a retrospective study. Information was collected from the eye clinic department hospital records from January to December of the years 2013 and 2014 of children between the ages of 6 to 14 years old at Arthur Davison Children’s Hospital.Results:A total of 507 children’s eye clinic records for the years 2013 and 2014 were screened and out of them 47.5% (241) were males and 52.5% (266) were females. Refractive errors were found in 41.6% (211) of the children out of which 35.5% (75/211) were males and 64.5% (136/211) were females. Of these there were a total of 90.5% (191/211) with myopia; 2.4% (5/211) with hyperopia; 7.1% (15/211) with astigmatism, with myopia being the most prevalent refractive error.Conclusion:Of the 507 hospital records reviewed 41.6% of the children had refractive errors with myopia being the commonest.Myopia was more common in females (47.4%) than males (27.0%) and more prevalent in the 10 – 14 years age group (53.7%) compared to the 6 – 9 years age group (17.4%). Refractive errors are a common disorder in school-aged children, and therefore, eye screening programs are cardinal and beneficial in the early detection and proper treatment of refractive errors.
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