To assess the prevalence of myopia and its risk factors in rural school children.
Children in classes 4–7 of eight randomly selected schools (five government and three private) in rural Haryana, with unaided vision <6/9.5 were screened, their cycloplegic refraction is done, myopes were identified. A questionnaire-based assessment of risk factors was done for myopes and compared with 10% of randomly selected children with normal vision (controls). The prevalence of myopia and its association with risk factors were assessed.
Children screened were 1486 (89.5% coverage). The mean age of children was 11.2 ± 1.5 years with 861 (57.9%) boys. Prevalence of myopia was 6.4% (95% Confidence intervals [CI]: 5.2%, 7.8%). Prevalence was higher among private schools (10.1%) compared to government schools (1.4%) (p < 0.001), and among girls 7.2% (45/625) compared to boys 5.8% (50/861) (p = 0.2786). The mean spherical equivalent refractive error was −1.61D ± 1.32D. The prevalence of high myopia was 1.1% (1/95). There was a 75% unmet need for spectacles. Studying in private school was positively associated with myopia as per our multivariate analysis (p = 0.016). An inverse association was found for time spent outdoors (p = 0.009). Watching television, indoor time, screen time, age, or gender were not found to be statistically significant as risk factors.
The prevalence of myopia is increasing among children of rural areas, especially those in private schools with a strong inverse association with time spent outdoors. Regular screening, lifestyle modification and awareness about modifiable risk factors are essential.
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The authors would like to acknowledge the assistance of all school principals and teachers for their support. We also acknowledge the contribution of Mr. Deepak towards data analysis.
The study was funded through Grant number E-1475/390/2015 of the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India. The funds were for school visits, data collection and analysis. None of the authors are employed by the funding agency (www.dst.gov.in). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish or preparation of the manuscript.
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The authors declare no competing interests.
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Saxena, R., Gupta, V., Prasad, P. et al. Prevalence of myopia and its risk factors in rural school children in North India: the North India myopia rural study (NIM-R Study). Eye (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41433-021-01797-3