The prevalence of ocular morbidity among school children in the city is as high as 30.4 per cent. Further, girls aged above 14 years studying in private schools are at a significantly higher risk of eye diseases, according to a study done by doctors at the Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32.
More than 9,000 children from selected schools, with age varying from 6 to 16 years, were screened for ocular morbidity, which means any eye disease regardless of the resultant visual loss. While 73 per cent children were from government schools, 27 per cent were from private schools.
It was found that the overall prevalence of ocular morbidity among schoolchildren was 30.4% and it was significantly higher in private schools than government schools. Further, the problem was more prevalent among females (33.2%) than males (27.7%).
The study revealed, “The prevalence of ocular morbidity increased with increasing age and it was significantly higher (33.2%) in the higher age-group, that is 14-16 years.”
Refractive error was the most common ocular morbidity. Out of total 30.4% ocular morbidity cases, refractive error constituted about 29.3%. Further, the error was significantly higher among females (32.2%) than males (26.5%).
It was followed by colour blindness (1.2%), squint (0.8%), lid abnormalities (0.7%), allergic conjunctivitis (0.4%), congenital anomalies (0.2%) and trauma (0.17%), with vitamin A deficiency being the least prevalent at 0.05%.
The prevalence of refractive error was significantly higher in private schools (38.1%) than government schools (26.0%). A similar trend was seen with colour blindness. On the other hand, in government schools, ocular pathology and squint were more prevalent.
The overall prevalence of ocular morbidity increased significantly with age. Ocular pathology was present more in the younger age group of 6-9 years, that is 2%. Colour vision deficiency increased significantly with age, it was more prevalent in 14-16 years (1.5%) than in 6-9 years (0.6%). Refractive error also increased significantly with age.
The study suggests that effective school screening and proper implementation of healthcare facilities at this level can be effective in decreasing the load of visual impairment among the younger population.