Refractive error and visual impairment in Republic of Ireland schoolchildren.

Síofra Harrington, Jim Stack, Kathryn J Saunders, Veronica O'Dwyer

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Aims: To report refractive error prevalence and visual impairment in Republic of Ireland schoolchildren.
Methods: The Ireland Eye Study examined 1,626 participants (881 boys, 745 girls) in two age groups, 6-7 years (728) and 12-13 years (898), in the Republic of Ireland between June 2016 and January 2018. Participating schools were selected by stratified random sampling, representing a mix of school type (primary/post-primary), location (urban/rural), socio-economic status (disadvantaged/advantaged). Examination included monocular logMAR presenting visual acuity (with spectacles if worn) and cycloplegic auto-refraction (1% Cyclopentolate Hydrochloride). Parents completed a questionnaire to ascertain participants’ lifestyle.
Results: Prevalence of myopia (spherical equivalent refraction (SER): ≤-0.50D), hyperopia (SER: ≥+2.00D), and astigmatism (≤-1.00DC) amongst 6-7-year-old children was 3.3%, 25% and 19.2% respectively, and amongst 12-13-year-old children, 19.9%, 8.9% and 15.9% respectively. Astigmatic axes were predominately with-the-rule. Prevalence of “better eye” presenting visual impairment (≥0.3 logMAR, with spectacles, if worn) was 3.7% among younger and 3.4% among older participants. Participants in minority groups (Traveller and non-white) were significantly more likely to present with presenting visual impairment in the ‘better eye’.
Conclusions: The Ireland Eye Study is the first population-based study to report on refractive error prevalence and visual impairment in the Republic of Ireland. Myopia prevalence is similar to comparable studies of white European children but levels of presenting visual impairment are markedly higher than those reported for children living in Northern Ireland, suggesting barriers exist in accessing eyecare.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages7
Early online date12 Oct 2018
Publication statusPublished online - 12 Oct 2018


  • myopia
  • visual impairment
  • prevalence
  • childhood
  • vision


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