Purpose: To determine whether eyestrain symptoms predict eye conditions in 6-year-old children.
Design: Cross-sectional population-based study.
Methods: Reports of eyestrain symptoms were sought in parental questionnaires; 1740 children (79% response) underwent eye examinations (visual acuity, cover testing, cycloplegic autorefraction, and fundus examination).
Results: Eyestrain information was available for 1448 children; 220 (15.2%) reported eyestrain symptoms, including 60 (3.4%) who reported near work-associated headaches. Most children (82.3%) had a normal eye examination, while refractive errors, amblyopia, and strabismus were found in 15.0%, 3.6%, and 7.3%, respectively. Corresponding rates for children without eyestrain were 9.9%, 1.4%, and 1.8%, respectively. Moreover, 78.7% of children with refractive errors, 68% with amblyopia, and 58% with strabismus reported no eyestrain.
Conclusions: Most children complaining of eyestrain had a normal eye examination; whereas most children with refractive error, amblyopia, or strabismus were free of eyestrain, making this complaint a poor marker of eye conditions in young children.