Background: Currently, there is a lack of adequate data on pediatric eye and vision disorders in Canada, particularly in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. In the present study, we estimate the prevalence of eye and vision disorders among young children who participated in a vision screening program in the St. John's, Newfoundland, metropolitan region.
Methods: In daycare settings, 946 children (mean age 4.2 years) were screened with the latest tests of optics and functional vision. Those with suspected vision disorders were referred to an optometrist for a complete eye examination. From the results of these examinations, prevalence rates were estimated for several categories of vision disorders.
Results: Overall, we estimate that 14.0% of the children possessed significant vision disorders, the most prevalent of which were hyperopia, amblyopia, and strabismus (4.8%, 4.7%, and 4.3%, respectively). Myopia and anisometropia, on the other hand, were relatively rare (1.1% and 1.4%, respectively). In general, prevalence estimates are within the range of existing estimates from other developed nations.
Interpretation: Although the prevalence rates reported here must be interpreted cautiously because of methodological limitations, it appears that children in the present study do not possess an abnormally high prevalence of visual dysfunction. Nevertheless, because an estimated 14.0% of children tested had treatable vision disorders, early screening is clearly warranted in Newfoundland and Labrador.