Refractive status in the Beaver Dam Eye Study

Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 1994 Dec;35(13):4344-7.


Purpose: To describe the prevalence of refractive errors in a population of adult Americans.

Methods: From 1988 to 1990, 4926 adults who were 43 to 84 years of age and living in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin at the time of the 1987-1988 census were examined. Refractions were performed according to a modification of the Early Treatment Diabetic Retinopathy Study protocol. Included in this study were 4533 people who had not undergone cataract surgery and who had a best corrected visual acuity better than 20/40 in at least one eye. Myopia was defined as a refractive error less than -0.50 diopters; hyperopia was defined as a refractive error greater than +0.50 diopters.

Results: Hyperopia was more frequent than myopia in the study group (age-adjusted of 49.0% and 26.2% in right eyes, respectively, P = 0.0001). The prevalence of hyperopia in the right eye increased with increasing age from 22.1% in those 43 to 54 years of age to 68.5% in those 75 years of age or older. The prevalence of myopia in the right eye decreased from 43.0% in those 43 to 54 years of age to 14.4% in those 75 years of age or older. There was significant relationship between education level and refractive error (age adjusted r = -0.32, P = 0.0001). Neither household income nor occupation was associated with refractive error in our data.

Conclusion: These cross-sectional data indicate age-related differences in refractive status in an adult population and suggest that education is associated with myopia independent of age.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cataract Extraction
  • Diabetic Retinopathy / physiopathology*
  • Diabetic Retinopathy / surgery
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Refraction, Ocular*
  • Refractive Errors / physiopathology*
  • Visual Acuity
  • Wisconsin