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Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 1999 Sep;40(10):2179-84.

Refractive errors in a black adult population: the Barbados Eye Study.

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Department of Preventive Medicine, University at Stony Brook, New York 11794-8036, USA.



To describe the prevalence of refractive errors in a black adult population.


The Barbados Eye Study, a population-based study, included 4709 Barbados-born citizens, or 84% of a random sample, 40 to 84 years of age. Myopia and hyperopia were defined as a spherical equivalent <-0.5 diopters and >+0.5 diopters, respectively, based on automated refraction. Analyses included 4036 black participants without history of cataract surgery. Associations with myopia and hyperopia were evaluated in logistic regression analyses.


The prevalence of myopia was 21.9% and was higher in men (25.0%) than in women (19.5%). The prevalence of hyperopia was 46.9% and was higher in women (51.8%) than in men (40.5%). The prevalence of myopia decreased from 17% in persons 40 to 49 years of age to 11% in those 50 to 59 years of age, but increased after 60 years of age. The prevalence of hyperopia increased from 29% at 40 to 49 years of age to 65% at 50 to 59 years of age, and tended to decline thereafter. A higher prevalence of myopia was positively associated (P < 0.05) with lifetime occupations requiring nearwork, nuclear opacities, posterior subcapsular opacities, glaucoma, and ocular hypertension. Factors associated with hyperopia were the same as for myopia, except for occupation, and in the opposite direction.


High prevalences of myopia and hyperopia were found in this large black adult population. The prevalence of myopia (hyperopia) increased (decreased) after 60 years of age, which is inconsistent with data from other studies. The high prevalence of age-related cataract, glaucoma, and other eye conditions in the Barbados Eye Study population may contribute to the findings.

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