Prevalence, patterns and factors associated with refractive errors among children attending Eye Clinic of Mulago Hospital.
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Introduction: Refractive error (RE) is one of the most common ocular conditions in children and high refractive error in childhood may lead to amblyopia if not corrected early. Globally, the leading causes of vision impairment and blindness are uncorrected refractive errors. Study Objective: To determine the prevalence, pattern of refractive errors and associated factors among children attending eye clinic of Mulago hospital. Methods: Hospital based cross sectional study was done on 188 children aged 3-15 years consecutively recruited from the eye clinic of MNRH. A structured questionnaire was used to obtain data on the socio-demographic, clinical and ocular examination findings. Data was entered to the computer using Epidata and analysed using STATA. Prevalence of Refractive errors were obtained and modified passion regression analysis was used to determine the factors associated with refractive errors. Results: Out of the 188 study participants, majority were male (54.8%), and 60.6% of participants were at primary level of education. The median age was 11 years (IQR: 7-13). The prevalence of refractive error was 28.2% (95% CI: 22.2– 35.1) of which 52.8% had astigmatism, 35.8% had myopia and 11.3% had hyperopia. Anisometropia was found in 37.7% of those who had RE. There was statistically significant association between refractive errors and patients who presented with blurred distant vision, history of eye operation and history of ocular penetrating trauma. Age, sex, education level and long duration of near work were not found statistically significantly associated with refractive errors. Conclusion and recommendation: The prevalence of refractive errors among children attending MNRH eye clinic was high at 28.2% and the commonest form of refractive error was astigmatism at 52.8%. Blurred far vision, history of penetrating ocular trauma, and eye operation were found statistically significantly associated with refractive errors while sex, age, education level and long duration of near work were not. All Hospitals with Eye clinics should screen and refract all children for refractive errors regardless of presenting complaint with more emphasis on those who present with blurred vision, history of penetrating ocular trauma, and eye operation.