Refractive error is one of the commonly encountered problems during pregnancy and being the cause of deleterious effects on health. Despite its impacts, there is no evidence on the magnitude and associated factors of refractive error among pregnant women in Ethiopia. This study aimed to determine the prevalence of refractive error and its associated factors among pregnant women attending antenatal care unit at the University of Gondar Comprehensive Specialized Hospital, Northwest Ethiopia, 2020.
An institution-based cross-sectional study was employed. An ocular examination was performed using Retinoscope and Snellen’s illiterate “E” chart. The required data were collected using an interviewer-administered questionnaire which comprised socio-demographic, clinical and pregnancy-related variables. EpiData 3.02 and STATA 14 were used for data entry and analysis respectively. Both bivariable and multivariable binary logistic regression analyses were executed to identify factors associated with refractive error. Variables with a p-value ≤ 0.05 in the multivariable logistic regression analysis were declared as significantly associated factors with refractive error.
A total of 401 pregnant women with a median age of 27 (IQR = 24-31) years participated in this study. The overall prevalence of refractive error among the study participants was 35.66% (95% CI: 30.95-40.37). Of the total study participants, ninety-two (22.90%) of them were myopic, forty-five (11.22%) were hyperopic and the rest were antimetropic. Increased maternal age (AOR = 1.31; 95% CI: 1.16-1.48)), increased parity (AOR = 3.17, 95% CI: 1.92-5.25), increased gestational age (AOR = 1.15, 95% CI: 1.08-1.22), and regular use of computers/ watching television (AOR = 6.19, 95% CI: 2.46-15.59) were significantly associated with refractive error.
The prevalence of refractive error among pregnant women was high where myopia was the most common variety. Advanced maternal age, increased gestational age, increased parity and regular use of computer or watching television were significantly associated with refractive error among pregnant women. Therefore, apart from providing other maternal health services, routine screening and evaluation of pregnant women for refractive error during antenatal care visit is recommended to avoid its negative impacts.