Aim: To compare the prevalences of refractive errors in Malay, Chinese and Indian children in Malaysia and Singapore.
Methods: Children aged 7–9 years from three schools in the Singapore Cohort study of the Risk factors for Myopia (n = 1962) and similarly aged children from a random cluster sample in the metropolitan Kuala Lumpur area in the Malaysia Refractive Error Study in Children (n = 1752) were compared. Cycloplegic autorefraction was conducted in both countries.
Results: The prevalence of myopia (spherical equivalent of at least −0.5 diopters (D) in either eye) was higher in Singapore Malays (22.1%) than in Malays in Malaysia (9.2%; 95% confidence interval (CI) 11.2 to 14.7; p<0.001). Similarly, Singapore Chinese (40.1%) had higher prevalences than Malaysian Chinese (30.9%; 95% CI 1.5 to 16.9). Singapore Indians had a higher prevalence (34.1%) than Malaysian Indians (12.5%; 95% CI 17.4 to 25.9). The multivariate odds ratio of astigmatism (cylinder at least 0.75 D in either eye) in Singapore Malays compared with Malaysian Malays was 3.47 (95% CI 2.79 to 4.32). Ethnicity-specific hyperopia rates did not differ in Singapore and Malaysia.
Conclusion: The ethnicity-specific prevalences of myopia in Singapore Malays, Chinese and Indians are higher than those in Malaysian Malays, Chinese and Indians. As Malays, Chinese and Indians in Malaysia have genetic make-up similar to that of Malays, Chinese and Indians in Singapore, environmental factors may contribute to the higher myopia rates.
- RESC, Refractive Error Study in Children
- SCORM, Singapore COhort study of the Risk factors for Myopia
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Published Online First 29 June 2006
Funding: This study was supported by the National Medical Research Council (NMRC), NMRC/0975/2005, Singapore; the World Health Organization under National Institutes of Health contract N01-EY-2103; and the Ministry of Health Malaysia under Major Research Grant 2003/13.
Competing interests: None.