Objectives: To report factors associated with childhood eyecare utilization in a random sample of 1740 Sydney schoolchildren aged 6, examined during 2003-4.
Methods: Information on use of eyecare services, defined as any previous consultation with an ophthalmologist or optometrist, was sought from parents. Children had comprehensive eye examinations, including visual acuity (VA), cover testing, cycloplegic refraction and dilated fundus examination.
Results: Prior ophthalmic or optometric assessment was reported by 465 children (29.2%), and was not associated with gender (p = 0.9), parental employment (p = 0.4) or home ownership (p = 0.9). Children of East Asian (odds ratio, OR, 0.7, 95% confidence interval, CI, 0.5-0.9) or other ethnicities (OR 0.7, CI 0.6-1.0) were less likely than European Caucasian children to have been examined. Parent-expressed concern about their child's vision was associated with a 10-fold increased likelihood of previous eye examination (OR 10.2, CI 7.3-14.5). Complaints of eyestrain were associated with a 4-fold increase (OR 4.4, CI 3.2-5.9). Most children with VA < 20/40 in at least one eye (63.1%), amblyopia (80.0%) or strabismus (86.4%) had been assessed.
Conclusions: One third of this childhood sample reported prior examination by an eyecare professional. Given that most children needing vision assessment had been examined and likely effects of parental motivation, this rate seems reasonable and appropriate.