Purpose: To determine demographic and refractive risk factors for astigmatism in the Vision in Preschoolers Study.
Methods: Three- to 5-year-old Head Start preschoolers (N = 4040) from five clinical centers underwent comprehensive eye examinations by study-certified optometrists and ophthalmologists, including monocular visual acuity testing, cover testing, and cycloplegic retinoscopy. Astigmatism was defined as the presence of greater than or equal to +1.5 diopters (D) cylinder in either eye, measured with cycloplegic refraction. The associations of risk factors with astigmatism were evaluated using the odds ratio (OR) and its 95% confidence interval (CI) from logistic regression models.
Results: Among 4040 Vision in Preschoolers Study participants overrepresenting children with vision disorders, 687 (17%) had astigmatism, and most (83.8%) had with-the-rule astigmatism. In multivariate analyses, African American (OR, 1.65; 95% CI, 1.22 to 2.24), Hispanic (OR, 2.25; 95% CI, 1.62 to 3.12), and Asian (OR, 1.76; 95% CI, 1.06 to 2.93) children were more likely to have astigmatism than non-Hispanic white children, whereas American Indian children were less likely to have astigmatism than Hispanic, African American, and Asian children (p < 0.0001). Refractive error was associated with astigmatism in a nonlinear manner, with an OR of 4.50 (95% CI, 3.00 to 6.76) for myopia (≤-1.0 D in spherical equivalent) and 1.55 (95% CI, 1.29 to 1.86) for hyperopia (≥+2.0 D) when compared with children without refractive error (>-1.0 D, <+2.0 D). There was a trend of an increasing percentage of astigmatism among older children (linear trend p = 0.06). The analysis for risk factors of with-the-rule astigmatism provided similar results.
Conclusions: Among Head Start preschoolers, Hispanic, African American, and Asian race as well as myopic and hyperopic refractive error were associated with an increased risk of astigmatism, consistent with findings from the population-based Multi-ethnic Pediatric Eye Disease Study and the Baltimore Pediatric Eye Disease Study. American Indian children had lower risk of astigmatism.