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Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2009 Aug;50(8):3621-8. doi: 10.1167/iovs.08-2788. Epub 2009 Mar 5.

Prevalence and risk factors of undercorrected refractive errors among Singaporean Malay adults: the Singapore Malay Eye Study.

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  • 1Singapore National Eye Center, Singapore.



To describe the prevalence and the risk factors of undercorrected refractive error in an adult urban Malay population.


This population-based, cross-sectional study was conducted in Singapore in 3280 Malay adults, aged 40 to 80 years. All individuals were examined at a centralized clinic and underwent standardized interviews and assessment of refractive errors and presenting and best corrected visual acuities. Distance presenting visual acuity was monocularly measured by using a logarithm of the minimum angle of resolution (logMAR) number chart at a distance of 4 m, with the participants wearing their "walk-in" optical corrections (spectacles or contact lenses), if any. Refraction was determined by subjective refraction by trained, certified study optometrists. Best corrected visual acuity was monocularly assessed and recorded in logMAR scores using the same test protocol as was used for presenting visual acuity. Undercorrected refractive error was defined as an improvement of at least 0.2 logMAR (2 lines equivalent) in the best corrected visual acuity compared with the presenting visual acuity in the better eye.


The mean age of the subjects included in our study was 58 +/- 11 years, and 52% of the subjects were women. The prevalence rate of undercorrected refractive error among Singaporean Malay adults in our study (n = 3115) was 20.4% (age-standardized prevalence rate, 18.3%). More of the women had undercorrected refractive error than the men (21.8% vs. 18.8%, P = 0.04). Undercorrected refractive error was also more common in subjects older than 50 years than in subjects aged 40 to 49 years (22.6% vs. 14.3%, P < 0.001). Non-spectacle wearers were more likely to have undercorrected refractive errors than were spectacle wearers (24.4% vs. 14.4%, P < 0.001). Persons with primary school education or less were 1.89 times (P = 0.03) more likely to have undercorrected refractive errors than those with post-secondary school education or higher. In contrast, persons with a history of eye disease were 0.74 times (P = 0.003) less likely to have undercorrected refractive errors. The proportion of undercorrected refractive error among the Singaporean Malay adults with refractive errors was higher than that of the Singaporean Chinese adults with refractive errors.


Undercorrected refractive error is a significant cause of correctable visual impairment among Singaporean Malay adults, affecting one in five persons.

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