Purpose: To assess epidemiological aspects of refractive errors in school-age children in Burkina Faso (west-central Africa).
Methods: A total of 315 school children (ranging from 6 to 16 years of age and belonging to different ethnic groups) taken at random from two urban schools in eastern Burkina Faso were examined to assess their refractive error, which was determined by non-cycloplegic retinoscopy with optical fogging. The standard Refractive Error Study in Children (RESC) definitions of refractive errors were used: myopia ≤-0.5 D spherical equivalent (SE) in at least one eye, hyperopia ≥2 D SE in at least one eye, astigmatism ≤-0.75 D cylinder in at least one eye, and anisometropia ≥1 D SE difference between the two eyes.
Results: Unilateral myopia and bilateral myopia were found in 2.5 and 1%, respectively; unilateral hyperopia in 17.1%, bilateral hyperopia in 8.6%; astigmatism in at least one eye in 11.7%. The highest prevalence value (18.4%) of astigmatism (≤-0.75 D) in at least one eye was found in the Gourmantché ethnic group. The low prevalence of large refractive errors makes visual acuity in these children very good (visual acuity logarithm of the minimum angle of resolution -0.073 ± 0.123 SD).
Conclusions: There was a low prevalence of myopia in these African school children. Clinically significant high hyperopia (≥+2 D SE) was also uncommon. There were no significant differences between the distributions of refractive errors according to gender or ethnicity. With respect to age groups, the prevalences of hyperopia and astigmatism were significantly higher in the younger age groups.