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Year : 2021  |  Volume : 69  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 543-547

Status of eye health among tribal school children in South India

1 Elite School of Optometry, Sankara Nethralaya, Unit of Medical Research Foundation, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
2 Department of Optometry, Sankara Nethralaya, Unit of Medical Research Foundation, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Anuradha Narayanan
Elite School of Optometry, Unit of Medical Research Foundation, 8, G S T Road St Thomas Mount, Chennai - 600 016, Tamil Nadu
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijo.IJO_1351_20

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Purpose: Global trends show a high prevalence of refractive errors among children. The prevalence of vision impairment due to uncorrected refractive errors among school children is increasing and the need for management of other ocular conditions is also reported. This study presents the status of eye health and pattern of daily activities among the school children of a tribal location in Tamil Nadu, South India. Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted in 13 schools of Karumandurai cluster, Salem district in Tamil Nadu, India. A three-phased comprehensive school screening protocol was conducted to understand the prevalence of vision impairment, refractive error, and other ocular conditions along with a survey about the daily activities of the children at school and home. Results: Among the 3655 children screened, the prevalence of vision impairment was found to be 0.62% (n = 23, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.42–0.94) and prevalence of refractive error was 0.30% (n = 11, 95%CI 0.17–0.54), among which 0.11% (n = 4) were already wearing spectacles. A total of 44 children (1.20%; 95%CI 0.90–1.61) were found to have other ocular problems and among them, 14 (0.38%) had visual acuity less than 20/30 (6/9). Almost 84% of children required surgical or specialty eye care services. Vision impairment was more in children with other ocular conditions compared to refractive errors (P < 0.001). Conclusion: The prevalence of vision impairment and refractive errors in this tribal area was less. Ocular conditions were more prevalent than refractive errors in this tribal region with the majority of children needing specialty or surgical eye care services. This implies the need for access to secondary or tertiary eye care centers.

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