Childhood ethnic differences in ametropia and ocular biometry: the Aston Eye Study

Nicola S. Logan, Parth Shah, Alicja R. Rudnicka, Bernard Gilmartin, Christopher G. Owen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: To describe the methodology, sampling strategy and preliminary results for the Aston Eye Study (AES), a cross-sectional study to determine the prevalence of refractive error and its associated ocular biometry in a large multi-racial sample of school children from the metropolitan area of Birmingham, England.
Methods: A target sample of 1700 children aged 6–7 years and 1200 aged 12–13 years is being selected from Birmingham schools selected randomly with stratification by area deprivation index (a measure of socio-economic status). Schools with pupils predominantly (>70%) from a single race are excluded. Sample size calculations account for the likely participation rate and the clustering of individuals within schools. Procedures involve standardised protocols to allow for comparison with international population-based data. Visual acuity, non-contact ocular biometry (axial length, corneal radius of curvature and anterior chamber depth) and cycloplegic autorefraction are measured in both eyes. Distance and near oculomotor balance, height and weight are also assessed. Questionnaires for parents and older children will allow the influence of environmental factors on refractive error to be examined.
Results: Recruitment and data collection are ongoing (currently N = 655). Preliminary cross-sectional data on 213 South Asian, 44 black African Caribbean and 70 white European children aged 6–7 years and 114 South Asian, 40 black African Caribbean and 115 white European children aged 12–13 years found myopia prevalence of 9.4% and 29.4% for the two age groups respectively. A more negative mean spherical equivalent refraction (SER) was observed in older children (-0.21 D vs +0.87 D). Ethnic differences in myopia prevalence are emerging with South Asian children having higher levels than white European children 36.8% vs 18.6% (for the older children). Axial length, corneal radius of curvature and anterior chamber depth were normally distributed, while SER was leptokurtic (p < 0.001) with a slight negative skew.
Conclusions: The AES will allow ethnic differences in the ocular characteristics of children from a large metropolitan area of the UK to be examined. The findings to date indicate the emergence of higher levels of myopia by early adolescence in second and third generation British South Asians, compared to white European children. The continuation of the AES will allow the early determinants of these ethnic differences to be studied.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)550-558
Number of pages9
JournalOphthalmic and Physiological Optics
Issue number5
Early online date18 Jul 2011
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2011


  • adolescent
  • African continental ancestry group
  • Asian continental ancestry group
  • biometry
  • child
  • cross-sectional studies
  • England
  • European continental ancestry group
  • female
  • humans
  • male
  • myopia
  • odds ratio
  • prevalence
  • multi-ethnic
  • refractive error
  • ocular biometry
  • children


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