Purpose: To determine the prevalence of distance refractive error among Aboriginal people attending eye clinics in remote South Australia.
Methods: A clinic-based cross-sectional study was conducted that involved opportunistic sampling of Aboriginal people attending eye clinics in remote South Australia. There were 189 individuals who were invited to participate in the study all of whom underwent ophthalmic examination. This examination included measurement of pinhole-corrected visual acuity and non-cycloplegic autorefraction.
Results: Automated refractive error examinations were performed on 148 people within this sample. The mean age was 44.8 ± 14.5 years and women comprised 57.7% of the sample. The overall mean refractive error was −0.01 ± 1.8 D (SD). The prevalence of myopia (spherical equivalent (SE) < −0.5 D), high myopia (SE less than or equal to −6.0 D), hypermetropia (SE > 0.5 D), astigmatism (cylinder at least −0.5 D) and anisometropia (difference in SE of >0.5 D) was 31.1%, 0.7%, 33.1%, 55.8% and 45.9%, respectively. Further analyses revealed significant age-related trends with both myopia and hypermetropia. There were no gender associations with any form of refractive error. Of those people with clinically significant refractive error, 51/148 (34%), only four people owned distance spectacles.
Conclusions: There continues to be a level of uncorrected distance refractive error within these patients. This represents a need to screen for refractive error among Aboriginal people in remote locations and to provide them with appropriate spectacle correction.