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Knowledge and beliefs associated with refractive errors and undercorrection: the Singapore Malay Eye Study
  1. M Rosman1,2,3,
  2. T Y Wong1,2,4,5,
  3. W Wong2,
  4. M L Wong5,
  5. S-M Saw1,2,5
  1. 1
    Singapore National Eye Center, Singapore
  2. 2
    Singapore Eye Research Institute, National University of Singapore, Singapore
  3. 3
    Singapore Armed Forces, Singapore
  4. 4
    Centre for Eye Research Australia, University of Melbourne, Australia
  5. 5
    Department of Community, Occupational and Family Medicine, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore, Singapore
  1. Dr S-M Saw, Department of Community, Occupational and Family Medicine, National University of Singapore, 16 Medical Drive, Singapore 117597, Singapore; cofsawsm{at}


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.

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