Pattern of distribution of refractive error among primary school children in Malamulele community of Limpopo province, South Africa
Uncorrected refractive error results in poor visual ability, which negatively affects academic performance of school children. The study assessed the pattern of distribution of refractive error among primary school children in the central region of Malamulele community. Cluster sampling method was used to select one area under Malamulele Circuit and the primary schools; systematic random selection was done to select participants. A questionnaire comprising closeended questions was completed by parents and an assessment form was used to record visual examination results of the selected children. Participants were 340 school children (138, 40.6% males; 202, 59.4% females) whose ages ranged from 9 to 15 years. Of the 340 children, a significantly high number of 70 (20.1%) were found to have refractive error while 18 (5.3%) had pathological conditions. Myopia was the most prevalent refractive error at 60.0% (42), followed by hyperopia and astigmatism at 21.4% (15) and 18.6% (13) respectively. It was recommended that the Department of Health, private sector and non-government organizations should strengthen the current school vision screening programmes. Free spectacles should be provided to all children with refractive error and vision testing should be conducted on children upon their admission into the first grade.
Keywords: Astigmatism, hyperopia, myopia, refractive error, school vision screening.