Background/Aims: Refractive errors, especially if undercorrected, are common and important cause of poor vision, particularly in Asia. We described the knowledge and beliefs of refractive errors and possible impact of undercorrection in a population-based study in Singapore.
Methods: This study was a sub-study on 503 subjects with refractive error from a population-based survey of 3,280 adult Malays in Singapore aged 40 to 80 years. We used the Health Belief Model to develop a questionnaire and evaluated subjects with refractive errors on their health beliefs towards adopting health-seeking behaviour for correction of refractive error and compared the responses 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 eyecare 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% versus 49.3%), and not wear spectacles (41.7% versus 22.3%). Knowledge on astigmatism (1.4% versus 5.6%) and refractive errors (62.6% versus 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.