Myopia in secondary school students in Mwanza City, Tanzania: the need for a national screening programme

Wedner, S.H.; Ross, D.A.; Todd, J.; Anemona, A.; Balira, R.; Foster, A.
November 2002
British Journal of Ophthalmology;Nov2002, Vol. 86 Issue 11, p1200
Academic Journal
Background/aims: The prevalence of significant refractive errors and other eye diseases was measured in 2511 secondary school students aged 11-27 years in Mwanza City, Tanzania. Risk factors for myopia were explored. Methods: A questionnaire assessed the students' socioeconomic background and exposure to near work followed by visual acuity assessment and a full eye examination. Non-cycloplegic objective and subjective refraction was done on all participants with visual acuity of worse than 6/12 in either eye without an obvious cause. Results: 154 (6.1%) students had significant refractive errors. Myopia was the leading refractive error (5.6%). Amblyopia (0.4%), strabismus (0.2%), and other treatable eye disorders were uncommon. Only 30.3% of students with significant refractive errors wore spectacles before the survey. Age, sex, ethnicity, father's educational status, and a family history of siblings with spectacles were significant independent risk factors for myopia. Conclusion: The prevalence of uncorrected significant refractive errors is high enough to justify a regular school eye screening programme in secondary schools in Tanzania. Risk factors for myopia are similar to those reported in European, North-American, and Asian populations.


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