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Objectives: This study aimed to assess parents’ awareness of and perspectives on childhood refractive error in Saudi Arabia. Methods: This cross-sectional study included parents from different regions of Saudi Arabia was conducted between October and November 2020 and included 358 parents. Data were collected using an online questionnaire that involved questions to assess parents’ knowledge and perceptions of childhood refractive error and spectacle wear. Results: A total of 358 completed questionnaires were obtained in this study with a response rate of 85%. Almost 38.3% of parents reported that they had never heard of refractive error. One-third (33.7%) mentioned that uncorrected refractive error did not lead to visual impairment. The majority (74.0%) cited using eyeglasses as an effective way to manage childhood refractive error. Two-thirds (63.7%) stated that they did not receive any information about paediatric eye care. Better knowledge was associated with having a higher educational level, being female, and having an older age (p˂0.001, p=0.008, and p=0.024 respectively). Regarding parents' perspective on spectacle wear, almost 13.7% felt that using eyeglasses affected their children's chances of learning. However, 82.7% supposed that eyeglasses did not affect their children's employment opportunities. Approximately 22.1% thought that using eyeglasses would decrease the eyes power resulting in childhood visual impairment. Conclusion: The level of awareness and perceptions of childhood refractive error and spectacle wear was low among parents. Therefore, a policy is needed to improve the awareness and perception of key stakeholders such as parents and teachers. In turn such an improvement could play a crucial role in addressing the poor knowledge and bad perception of treatment for childhood refractive error.
Keywords: Childhood visual impairment; spectacle wear; parental attitudes; refractive error; paediatric eye care; psychological effect; vision care; Spectacle compliance.
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