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The prevalence rates of refractive errors among children, adolescents, and adults in Germany

Authors Jobke S, Kasten E, Vorwerk C

Published 12 September 2008 Volume 2008:2(3) Pages 601—607


Sandra Jobke1, Erich Kasten2, Christian Vorwerk3

1Institute of Medical Psychology, 3Department of Ophthalmology, Otto-von Guericke-University of Magdeburg, Magdeburg, Germany; 2Institute of Medical Psychology, University Hospital Schleswig-Holstein, Luebeck, Germany

Purpose: The prevalence rates of myopia vary between 5% in Australian Aborigines to 84% in Hong Kong and Taiwan, 30% in Norwegian adults, and 49.5% in Swedish schoolchildren. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of refractive errors in German children, adolescents, and adults.

Methods: The parents (aged 24–65 years) and their children (516 subjects aged 2–35 years) were asked to fill out a questionnaire about their refractive error and spectacle use. Emmetropia was defined as refractive status between +0.25D and –0.25D. Myopia was characterized as ≤−0.5D and hyperopia as ≥+0.5D. All information concerning refractive error were controlled by asking their opticians.

Results: The prevalence rates of myopia differed significantly between all investigated age groups: it was 0% in children aged 2–6 years, 5.5% in children aged 7–11 years, 21.0% in adolescents (aged 12–17 years) and 41.3% in adults aged 18–35 years (Pearson’s Chi-square, p = 0.000). Furthermore, 9.8% of children aged 2–6 years were hyperopic, 6.4% of children aged 7–11 years, 3.7% of adolescents, and 2.9% of adults (p = 0.380). The prevalence of myopia in females (23.6%) was significantly higher than in males (14.6%, p = 0.018). The difference between the self-reported and the refractive error reported by their opticians was very small and was not significant (p = 0.850).

Conclusion: In Germany, the prevalence of myopia seems to be somewhat lower than in Asia and Europe. There are few comparable studies concerning the prevalence rates of hyperopia.

Keywords: Germany, hyperopia, incidence, myopia, prevalence

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