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Ethnicity plays role in vision problems

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COLUMBUS, Ohio, Aug 14, 2003 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- Researchers are puzzling over why more Asian-American children are nearsighted and more white children are farsighted.

"We don't really know why these differences exist," said Karla Zadnik, the lead author of the multi-center study and an associate professor of optometry at Ohio State University.

For Hispanic children astigmatism, an irregular curvature of the cornea that causes blurry vision, was more prevalent, but narrowly, at 37 percent to 34 percent for Asians, 26 percent for whites and 20 percent for African-Americans. Only 6 percent to 7 percent of African-American children were either near- or farsighted.

Nearly one out of five Asian-American children in the study was nearsighted, and one out of five white children was farsighted.

The results appear in the Archives of Ophthalmology.

The researchers evaluated 2,523 children from four ethnic groups: 534 were African-American; 491 were Asian; 463 were Hispanic; and 1,035 were white.

Researchers also evaluated how much a child's eyesight changed in the formative years. They found most first graders were farsighted, but later developed myopia, or nearsightedness.

Copyright 2003 by United Press International.

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