Prevalence and Causes of Visual Impairment and Rate of Wearing Spectacles in Schools for Children of Migrant Workers in Shanghai, China

Journal Article

Published By

BMC Public Health

December 2014

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To assess the prevalence of visual impairment and rate of wearing spectacles in schools for children of migrant workers in Shanghai, China.

Children from grade 1 to 5 in schools for children of migrant workers were randomly chosen for ocular examinations. All children were screened for uncorrected visual acuity and presenting visual acuity. After screening, the children whose uncorrected visual acuity was 20/40 or less received ocular motility evaluation, cycloplegic refraction/non-cycloplegic refraction, and external eye, anterior segment, media, and fundus examinations.

A total of 9673 children were enumerated and 9512 (98.34%) participated in this study. The prevalence of uncorrected, presenting, and best-corrected visual acuity of 20/40 or worse in the better eye were 13.33%, 11.26%, and 0.63%, respectively. The rate of wearing spectacles of the children with visual impairment in one or both eyes was 15.50%. Of these, 26.05% were wearing spectacles with inaccurate prescriptions. Refractive error was a major cause of visual impairment, accounting for 89.48% of all the visual impairment causes. Other causes of visual impairment included amblyopia accounting for 10.12%; congenital cataract, 0.1%; congenital nystagmus, 0.1%; ocular prosthesis, 0.1%; macular degeneration, 0.05%; and opaque cornea, 0.05%.

This is the first study of the prevalence and causes of visual impairment in schools for children of migrant workers in Shanghai, China. The visual impairment rate in schools for children of migrant workers in suburbs of Shanghai in the best eye before vision correction was lower than those of urban children in mainstream schools in Guangzhou in 2012, and higher than students in rural of Beijing in 1998 and in suburb of Chongqing in 2007. The refractive error was the principal cause of the visual impairment of the children of migrant workers. The rate of wearing spectacles was low and the percentage of inaccurate prescriptions, among those who wore spectacles, was high. Uncorrected refractive error was a significant cause of visual impairment in migrant children.

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