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Optom Vis Sci. 2005 Apr;82(4):261-6.

Ametropia and ocular biometry in a U.K. university student population.

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Human Myopia Research Centre, Neurosciences Research Institute, Aston University, Birmingham, UK.



The prevalence of myopia is known to vary with age, ethnicity, level of education, and socioeconomic status, with a high prevalence reported in university students and in people from East Asian countries. This study determines the prevalence of ametropia in a mixed ethnicity U.K. university student population and compares associated ocular biometric measures.


Refractive error and related ocular component data were collected on 373 first-year U.K. undergraduate students (mean age = 19.55 years +/- 2.99, range = 17-30 years) at the start of the academic year at Aston University, Birmingham, and the University of Bradford, West Yorkshire. The ethnic variation of the students was as follows: white 38.9%, British Asian 58.2%, Chinese 2.1%, and black 0.8%. Noncycloplegic refractive error was measured with an infrared open-field autorefractor, the Shin-Nippon NVision-K 5001 (Shin Nippon, Ryusyo Industrial Co. Ltd, Osaka, Japan). Myopia was defined as a mean spherical equivalent (MSE) less than or equal to -0.50 D. Hyperopia was defined as an MSE greater than or equal to +0.50 D. Axial length, corneal curvature, and anterior chamber depth were measured using the Zeiss IOLMaster (Carl Zeiss, Jena, GmBH).


The analysis was carried out only for white and British Asian groups. The overall distribution of refractive error exhibited leptokurtosis, and prevalence levels were similar for white and British Asian (the predominant ethnic group) students across each ametropic group: myopia (50% vs. 53.4%), hyperopia (18.8% vs. 17.3%), and emmetropia (31.2% vs. 29.3%). There were no significant differences in the distribution of ametropia and biometric components between white and British Asian samples.


The absence of a significant difference in refractive error and ocular components between white and British Asian students exposed to the same educational system is of interest. However, it is clear that a further study incorporating formal epidemiologic methods of analysis is required to address adequately the recent proposal that juvenile myopia develops principally from "myopiagenic" environments and is relatively independent of ethnicity.

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