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J Adolesc Health. 2012 Jun;50(6):645-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2011.10.012. Epub 2012 Feb 4.

Uncorrected distance visual impairment among adolescents in the United States.

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Department of Pediatrics, Duke Clinical Research Institute, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina 27705, USA.



To describe uncorrected distance visual impairment (VI).


We conducted an analysis of the 3,555 adolescents aged 12 through 21 years who participated in the 2005-2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Distance VI was defined as 20/40 or worse in the better-seeing eye. Data were weighted to represent the civilian noninstitutionalized population.


Overall, 12.3% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 10.7%-14.1%) had distance VI, which was correctable to 20/30 or better in both eyes in 86.1% (95% CI: 83.6%-89.5%). The prevalence was higher among those who reported not having corrective lenses available (44.3%) compared with those who reported that they did not need them (8.5%) or who had them available (5.2%; p < .001). After adjusting for potential confounders, those who were 12 or 13 years of age had 2.27 (95% CI: 1.32-3.90) greater odds of distance VI than older adolescents, and the odds of distance VI were greater among non-Hispanic blacks (1.66 [95% CI: 1.11-2.48]), Hispanics (1.96 [95% CI: 1.35-2.84]), or other race/ethnicities (2.06 [95% CI: 1.19-3.57]) than among non-Hispanic whites.


More than 1 in 10 adolescents had uncorrected distance VI. To address this, interventions should address case detection, access to eye care, and adherence with corrective lenses.

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