Background: Refractive error is an important cause of preventable visual impairment and blindness worldwide. Population-based studies will continue to be a key part in identification ofthe magnitude and the importance of this common eye disease.
Objective: To assess the prevalence of the refractive error in primary school-aged children in Bangkok and Nakhonpathom together with the provision of the appropriately free of charge spectacles.
Material and method: A Population-based cross-sectional analytic study was conducted between October 2008 and September 2009. Random selection of geographically defined clusters was used to identify the study sample. The examination included visual acuity (VA) by Snellen chart and pinhole correction, autorefraction under cycloplegic refraction, ocular motility evaluation, examination of the external eye, anterior segment, media, and fundus. Ophthalmologists screened for ocular abnormalities.
Results: Among 2340 children, 1100 in Bangkok and 1240 in Nakhonpathom were examined The prevalence of refractive error in Bangkok and Nakhornpathom were 12.7% and 5.7% respectively. Refractive error was the cause in 97.6% of eyes with reduced vision, amblyopia in 0.5%, other causes in 0.8%, and unexplained causes in 1.1%.
Conclusion: The present study showed a relative high prevalence of uncorrected refractive error in the central part of Thailand especially in Bangkok. Eye health education and screening is recommended to evaluate the need for refractive correction with appropriate prescription of spectacles.