Prevalence and determinants of spectacle nonwear among rural Chinese secondary schoolchildren: the Xichang Pediatric Refractive Error Study Report 3

Arch Ophthalmol. 2008 Dec;126(12):1717-23. doi: 10.1001/archopht.126.12.1717.


Objective: To study spectacle wear among rural Chinese children.

Methods: Visual acuity, refraction, spectacle wear, and visual function were measured.

Results: Among 1892 subjects (84.7% of the sample), the mean (SD) age was 14.7 (0.8) years. Among 948 children (50.1%) potentially benefiting from spectacle wear, 368 (38.8%) did not own them. Among 580 children owning spectacles, 17.9% did not wear them at school. Among 476 children wearing spectacles, 25.0% had prescriptions that could not improve their visual acuity to better than 6/12. Therefore, 62.3% (591 of 948) of children needing spectacles did not benefit from appropriate correction. Children not owning and not wearing spectacles had better self-reported visual function but worse visual acuity at initial examination than children wearing spectacles and had a mean (SD) refractive error of -2.06 (1.15) diopter (D) and -2.78 (1.32) D, respectively. Girls (P < .001) and older children (P = .03) were more likely to be wearing their spectacles. A common reason for nonwear (17.0%) was the belief that spectacles weaken the eyes. Among children without spectacles, 79.3% said their families would pay for them (mean, US $15).

Conclusions: Although half of the children could benefit from spectacle wear, 62.3% were not wearing appropriate correction. These children have significant uncorrected refractive errors. There is potential to support programs through spectacle sales.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Asian People / ethnology*
  • Attitude to Health
  • Child
  • China / epidemiology
  • Eyeglasses / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Patient Compliance / ethnology*
  • Patient Compliance / statistics & numerical data*
  • Prevalence
  • Refraction, Ocular / physiology
  • Refractive Errors / ethnology
  • Refractive Errors / psychology
  • Refractive Errors / therapy
  • Rural Population / statistics & numerical data*
  • Vision Tests
  • Visual Acuity / physiology