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Background: Paediatric ophthalmology is an emerging subspecialty in Nigeria and as such there is paucity of data on refractive errors in the country. This study set out to determine the pattern of refractive errors in children attending an eye clinic in South West Nigeria.
Methods: A descriptive study of 180 consecutive subjects seen over a 2-year period. Presenting complaints, presenting visual acuity (PVA), age and sex were recorded. Clinical examination of the anterior and posterior segments of the eyes, extraocular muscle assessment and refraction were done. The types of refractive errors and their grades were determined. Corrected VA was obtained. Data was analysed using descriptive statistics in proportions, chi square with p value <0.05.
Results: The age range of subjects was between 3 and 16 years with mean age = 11.7 and SD = 0.51; with males making up 33.9%.The commonest presenting complaint was blurring of distant vision (40%), presenting visual acuity 6/9 (33.9%), normal vision constituted >75.0%, visual impairment20% and low vision 23.3%. Low grade spherical and cylindrical errors occurred most frequently (35.6% and 59.9% respectively). Regular astigmatism was significantly more common, P <0.001. The commonest diagnosis was simple myopic astigmatism (41.1%). Four cases of strabismus were seen.
Conclusion: Simple spherical and cylindrical errors were the commonest types of refractive errors seen. Visual impairment and low vision occurred and could be a cause of absenteeism from school.
Low-cost spectacle production or dispensing unit and health education are advocated for the prevention of visual impairment in a hospital set-up.
Keywords: Child, Refractive error, Eye clinic, Low-cost spectacle dispensing unit