Prevalence of amblyopia and strabismus in African American and Hispanic children ages 6 to 72 months the multi-ethnic pediatric eye disease study

Ophthalmology. 2008 Jul;115(7):1229-1236.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.ophtha.2007.08.001. Epub 2007 Oct 22.


Objective: To determine the age- and ethnicity-specific prevalences of strabismus in African American and Hispanic/Latino children ages 6 to 72 months and of amblyopia in African American and Hispanic/Latino children 30 to 72 months.

Design: Cross-sectional study.

Participants: The Multi-ethnic Pediatric Eye Disease Study is a population-based evaluation of the prevalence of vision disorders in children ages 6 to 72 months in Los Angeles County, California. A comprehensive eye examination was completed by 77% of eligible children. This report focuses on results from 3007 African American and 3007 Hispanic/Latino children.

Methods: Eligible children in all enumerated households in 44 census tracts were identified. Participants underwent an in-home interview and were scheduled for a comprehensive eye examination and in-clinic interview. The examination included evaluation of ocular alignment, refractive error, and ocular structures, as well as determination of optotype visual acuity (VA) in children 30 months and older.

Main outcome measures: The proportion of 6- to 72-month-olds with strabismus on ocular examination and proportion of 30- to 72-month-olds with optotype VA deficits and amblyopia risk factors consistent with predetermined definitions of amblyopia.

Results: Strabismus was detected in 2.4% of Hispanic/Latino children and 2.5% of African American children (P = 0.81), and was more prevalent in older children than in younger children. Amblyopia was detected in 2.6% of Hispanic/Latino children and 1.5% of African American children, a statistically significant difference (P = 0.02), and 78% of cases of amblyopia were attributable to refractive error. Amblyopia prevalence did not vary with age.

Conclusions: Among Hispanic/Latino and African American children in Los Angeles County, strabismus prevalence increases with age, but amblyopia prevalence appears stable by 3 years of age. Amblyopia is usually caused by abnormal refractive error. These findings may help to optimize the timing and modality of preschool vision screening programs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • African Americans / ethnology*
  • Amblyopia / diagnosis
  • Amblyopia / ethnology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Ethnic Groups
  • Female
  • Hispanic Americans / ethnology*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Los Angeles / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Strabismus / diagnosis
  • Strabismus / ethnology*
  • Visual Acuity