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Open Access Research article

The screening of visual impairment among preschool children in an urban population in Malaysia; the Kuching pediatric eye study: a cross sectional study

Mallika Premsenthil1, Rose Manju2, Asokumaran Thanaraj3, Syed Alwi Syed Abdul Rahman4 and Tan Aik Kah1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Ophthalmology, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS), Lot 77, Seksyen 22, Kuching Town Land District, Jalan Tun Ahmad Zaidi Adruce, Kuching, Sarawak, 93150, Malaysia

2 Department of Nursing, Faculty of Medicine and Health sciences, University Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS), Lot 77, Seksyen 22, Kuching Town Land District, Jalan Tun Ahmad Zaidi Adruce, Kuching, Sarawak, 93150, Malaysia

3 Department of Ophthalmology, Sarawak General Hospital, Kuching, Sarawak, 93150, Malaysia

4 Department of Family Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS), Lot 77, Seksyen 22, Kuching Town Land District, Jalan Tun Ahmad Zaidi Adruce, Kuching, Sarawak, 93150, Malaysia

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BMC Ophthalmology 2013, 13:16  doi:10.1186/1471-2415-13-16

Published: 19 April 2013

Abstract

Background

To screen for visual impairment in Malaysian preschool children.

Methods

Visual screening was conducted in 400 preschool children aged 4 to 6 years. The screening involved two basic procedures; the distant visual acuity test using the Sheridan Gardiner chart and the depth perception test using the Langs stereoacuity test. Criteria for referral were a visual acuity of 6/12 or less in the better eye or a fail in the depth perception test.

Results

The prevalence of visual impairment was 5% (95% confidence interval [CI] = 3.3, 7.6). Of the 400 preschool children screened, 20 of them failed the distant visual acuity test or the stereopsis test. Refractive errors were the most common cause of visual impairment (95%, 95% CI = 76.2, 98.8); myopic astigmatism was the commonest type of refractive error (63.2%, 95% CI = 40.8, 80.9).

Conclusion

The study is a small but important step in the effort to understand the problem of visual impairment among our preschool children. Our study showed that it is feasible to measure distant visual acuity and stereopsis in this age group.

Keywords:
Preschool children; Eye screening; Prevalence; Visual impairment; Distant visual acuity; Stereopsis; Amblyopia