• Comprehensive Ophthalmology

    The authors of this study conducted separate focus groups of teenagers, their parents and teachers in order to better understand the barriers to wearing glasses among children in rural China. The results indicate significant knowledge gaps about glasses and the need for educational programs on the topic.

    At three different locations in rural China, the authors held three types of focus groups composed of approximately seven to nine individuals: 14- to 18-year-old children with myopia of less than -0.5 D in both eyes, their parents and their teachers.

    Respondents in all three types of groups indicated that purchasing and wearing glasses should be delayed in children with early myopia and might be harmful. Children and their parents reported being uncertain about the child's myopia status and whether glasses should be worn. Parents most commonly said they did not buy glasses because they were "too busy with work," whereas "too expensive" ranked low. Inconvenience was ranked as an important reason for not wearing glasses among students. They ranked "accuracy of lens power" as the most important requirement for glasses and "new and attractive styles" last. All three types of focus groups indicated that wearing glasses or failing to wear them might worsen myopia. 

    The authors conclude that students, parents and teachers are all highly motivated to avoid damage to children's vision from myopia but a number of barriers prevent this concern from being translated into effective action. These barriers include a lack of understanding of myopia and its effect on vision, lack of access to precise information about the refractive state of children's eyes, misplaced concern that glasses will harm eyes and emphasis on unproven remedies to prevent or retard myopia as an alternative to refractive correction. The authors say that since cost and the need for attractive styles may not be significant barriers to the use of glasses in rural China, this raises the possibility of paying for the necessary educational programs about glasses through cost recovery.