Background/aims: Refractive errors, especially if undercorrected, are a common and important cause of poor vision, particularly in Asia. The knowledge and beliefs of refractive errors and possible impact of undercorrection in a population-based study in Singapore are described.
Methods: This study was a substudy on 503 subjects with refractive error from a population-based survey of 3280 adult Malays in Singapore aged 40 to 80 years. The Health Belief Model was used to develop a questionnaire, subjects with refractive errors were evaluated on their health beliefs towards adopting health-seeking behaviour for correction of refractive error, and the responses were compared between undercorrected subjects and subjects with corrected refractive errors.
Results: Of persons with myopia, 79.5% had heard of myopia, 79.2% of hyperopes had heard of hyperopia, while only 7.7% of those with astigmatism had heard of astigmatism. Adults who had never previously visited an eye-care specialist were less likely to have heard of astigmatism and to know that they have refractive error (p<0.01). Adults with undercorrected refractive error were more likely to be female (61.1% vs 49.3%) and not wear spectacles (41.7% vs 22.3%). Knowledge on astigmatism (1.4% vs 5.6%) and refractive errors (62.6% vs 77.5%) were significantly lower in the undercorrected group.
Conclusions: The lack of knowledge and awareness of refractive errors are important risk factors for undercorrected refractive error in an urban Singapore population.
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Competing interests: None.
Funding: Funded by the National Medical Research Council (NMRC), 0796/2003 & the Biomedical Research Council (BMRC), 501/1/25-5, with support from the Singapore Prospective Study Program and the Singapore Tissue Network, A*STAR.
Ethics approval: Ethics approval was provided by The Singapore Eye Research Institute (SERI) ethics committee.
Patient consent: Obtained.