The prevalence of adolescent eye disease in remote areas of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau has rarely been reported. To understand the prevalence of common eye diseases in Tibet, we performed ocular-disease screening on students from primary and secondary schools in Tibet, and compared the prevalence to that in the Central China Plain (referred to here as the “plains area”).
The refractive status of students was evaluated with a Spot™ vision screener. The test was conducted three or fewer times for both eyes of each student and results with best correction were recorded.
A total of 3246 students from primary and secondary schools in the Tibet Naidong district were screened, yielding a refractive error rate of 28.51%, which was significantly lower than that of the plains group (28.51% vs. 56.92%, p < 0.001). In both groups, the prevalence of refractive errors among females was higher than that among males.
We found that Tibetan adolescents had a lower prevalence of refractive errors than did adolescents in the plains area, which may be related to less intensive schooling and greater exposure to sunlight.