By Bignocia Masinge, Optician and Optometrist and student of the Master in Clinical Optometry and Vision Therapy


Purpose: To determine the prevalence and types of refractive errors in persons aged 11 years and older in the Tembisa Township, Gauteng Province, South Africa.

Methods: This cross-sectional study was based at the private optometry practice in Thembisa township, Gauteng province of South Africa. A total of 72 patients were found to have refractive errors out of the 100 patients who were screened, the other 28 patients were found to be emmetropes. Refractive error data were obtained by performing a comprehensive eye examination using an autorefractor & keratometer, fundus camera, slit lamp, retinoscopy, and subjective refraction. Unaided and aided visual acuity were assessed from Snellen chart 3M (projector illuminated chart).

Results: A sample comprised of 100 eligible persons who were screened and thoroughly examined. The ages varied from 11 to 82 years, with a mean age of 38.87. The study discovered 72% overall prevalence of refractive error, out of the 100 participants that were examined, 28% of the participants were emmetropes who did not need any optical correction. An important finding is that an alarming proportion (86.11%) of these refractive errors were not corrected, and only 13,89% had their old pair of spectacle correction. From the 72%, the most common refractive error was presbyopia (43%), followed by hyperopic astigmatism (19.44%), myopia astigmatism (13.90%), simple astigmatism (11.11%), myopia (6.95%), and hyperopia was the lowest refractive error at 5.60%. There was a remarkable number of 65.30% of females and 34.70% was males. Lack of awareness was reported among 58% as the hindrance to correcting refractive errors.

Conclusion: A significant finding is that most of the refractive errors were uncorrected because these people were not addressing eye care as part of priority to their health program as it is supposed to be done. This should be enforced. Most of them upon screening, they looked surprised that they had uncorrected refractive errors. This study showed that there is a need for interventions to reduce refractive error in the Tembisa township as well as in other surrounding areas affected by the lack of access to affordable eye care services.

Keywords: Uncorrected refractive errors, refractive errors, lack of awareness,

Download the full research study here: Bignocia Masinge (2021). Prevalence of Refractive Error Among the People of Tembisa Township, South Africa. SAERA


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