Purpose: To investigate the prevalence and predictors of undercorrected refractive errors in the Victorian population.
Methods: In this prospective study, a population-based sample of residents was recruited. The improvement in visual acuity with subjective refraction was assessed. Several individual characteristics were investigated as predictors of undercorrected refractive error.
Results: There were 5,615 eligible residents, of which 4,735 (84%) participated in the study (53% were women). In all, 466 participants (10%) had significant undercorrected refractive error leading to an improvement of 1 or more lines of visual acuity with refraction. Age was the most important predisposing factor. The risk of undercorrected refractive error increased by 1.8 times for every decade of life starting at 40 years of age. The next most important factor was the absence of distance refractive correction. These individuals were 6.8 times more at risk compared with those who wore distance spectacles. Other significant predictors of undercorrected refractive error were the presence of cataract and European or Middle Eastern languages spoken at home. People with tertiary education or hypermetropia were less likely to need refractive error improvement. Gender, country of birth, and employment status did not have any statistically significant effect after controlling for confounders.
Conclusions: The results of this study disclose people in the community who are more at risk of compromising their vision because of undercorrected refractive errors. A campaign is warranted to alert people that it may be possible to improve their vision.