MEPEDS: Visual impairment similar in Hispanic and African-American preschoolers

In a population of preschool children in Los Angeles, the rates of visual impairment did not differ between Hispanic and African-American children aged 30 to 72 months. The levels of visual acuity (VA) at presentation were often lower than the best-recorded VA as the result of uncorrected refractive errors and improved test scores with re-testing, said Arezoo Kadkhoda, MD, of the Department of Ophthalmology, University of Southern California, Los Angeles.

In a population of preschool children in Los Angeles, the rates of visual impairment did not differ between Hispanic and African-American children aged 30 to 72 months. The levels of visual acuity (VA) at presentation were often lower than the best-recorded VA as the result of uncorrected refractive errors and improved test scores with re-testing, said Arezoo Kadkhoda, MD, of the Department of Ophthalmology, University of Southern California, Los Angeles.

As part of the Multi-Ethnic Pediatric Eye Disease Study (MEPEDS), 3,036 Hispanic children and 3,007 African-American children were included. All children were tested using the Amblyopia Treatment Study HOTV VA testing protocol. Visual impairment was defined as a VA worse than 20/40 in children 48 months and older and 20/50 in children 30 to 47 months, she said.

There was no difference between the groups in the presenting VA in the worse eye, the presenting VA in the better eye, the best-measured VA in the worse eye, or the best-measured VA in the better eye.

Dr. Kadkhoda reported that severe visual impairment decreased with age in both groups (trend test, p = 0.01). The prevalence of visual impairment was similar in both ethnic groups; no difference was found based on gender, except in the 36- to 47-month old Hispanic children, with the boys have more visual impairment. At presentation, the VA decreased because of refractive error and improved with correction and repeated testing.

"This study was the first to compare the rates of visual impairment in Hispanic and African-American preschool children," she said. "Visual impairment is more common in younger than in older children, which might be explained by a better ability to concentrate among the older children. The importance of targeted screening of children and intervention should be emphasized during the preschool years."