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Objectives: This study aimed to assess parents’ awareness of and perspectives on childhood refractive errors in Saudi Arabia. Methods: This cross-sectional study was conducted between October and November 2020 in public schools across different regions of Saudi Arabia. Data were collected using an online questionnaire that assessed parents’ knowledge and perceptions of childhood refractive errors and spectacle wear. Results: A total of 358 parents from different regions of Saudi Arabia completed the questionnaire and were obtained in this study (response rate: 85%). Approximately one third (38.3%) of the parents reported that they had never heard of refractive errors and one-third (33.8%) mentioned that uncorrected refractive errors did not lead to visual impairment. The majority (74.0%) cited using eyeglasses as an effective way to manage childhood refractive errors. Two-thirds (63.7%) stated that they did not receive any information about paediatric eye care. Better knowledge was associated with a higher educational level, female gender and older age (P <0.001, P = 0.008 and P = 0.024, respectively). Regarding parents’ perspective on spectacle wear, 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. Almost a quarter of the sample (22.1%) thought that using eyeglasses would decrease the eye’s power, resulting in childhood visual impairment. Conclusion: The level of awareness and perceptions regarding childhood refractive errors and spectacle wear was low among parents. Therefore, a policy is needed to improve the awareness and perception of the key stakeholders in this issue, including parents and teachers.
Keywords: Visual Impairment; Spectacles; Parents; Attitudes; Refractive Error; Myopia; Psychological Effect; Vision Care; Eyeglasses.
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