To determine the prevalence of astigmatism and its determinants in schoolchildren aged 6–12 years.
The students selected by stratified cluster random sampling in Shahroud, north of Iran. Optometric examination included uncorrected visual acuity, refraction with autorefractometer, manifest refraction with retinoscopy followed by subjective and cycloplegic refraction (after two drops of cyclopentolate 1% with 5 min interval were instilled in each eye).
A cylinder power ≥0.75 diopter (D) in at least one eye was considered as astigmatism. The prevalence of astigmatism was reported based on a cylinder power higher than 0.50, 1.00, and 2.00 D in cycloplegic refraction, followed by power vector analysis.
After applying the inclusion criteria, the data of 5528 children were analyzed. The prevalence of astigmatism was 16.7% (95% CI: 15.6–17.7) in total, 16.6% (95% CI: 15.2–18.0) in boys and 16.8% (95% CI: 15.2–18.3) in girls ( p = 0.920) and decreased from 21.5% in 6-year-old children to 13.7% in 10-year-olds, and then again increased to 18.3% in children aged 12 years. Moreover, 17.2% (95% CI: 16.0–18.3) of urban and 12.1% (95% CI: 10.0–14.1) of rural children had astigmatism ( p < 0.001). The prevalence of with-the-rule, against-the-rule, and oblique astigmatism was 14.2%, 2.1%, and 0.33%, respectively. The mean cylinder power was −1.31, −0.46, and −0.44 D in children with spherical myopia, emmetropia, and hyperopia, respectively ( p < 0.001). Urban students had a higher J 0 and boys had a higher J 45.