Objective: To use focus groups to understand barriers to glasses use among children in rural China.
Methods: Separate focus groups were conducted between December 17, 2007, and August 5, 2008, for the following 3 groups at each of 3 schools in rural China: children aged 14 to 18 years with myopia of less than -0.5 diopters in both eyes, those children's parents, and those children's teachers. Participants were also asked to rank their responses to questions about glasses use. The focus group transcripts were coded independently by 2 investigators using qualitative data management software.
Results: Respondents of all 3 types indicated that glasses purchase and wear should be delayed in children with early myopia and might be harmful to the eyes. Parents and students reported being uncertain about children's actual myopia status and whether glasses should be worn. Parents ranked their most common reason for not buying glasses as being "too busy with work," whereas "too expensive" ranked low. Inconvenience was ranked as an important reason for not wearing glasses among all 3 student groups. "Accuracy of lens power" was the first-ranked requirement for glasses among all student groups, whereas "new and attractive styles" was ranked last by all. All 3 types of respondents believed that wearing glasses or failing to wear them might worsen myopia.
Conclusions: Educational programs are needed to address significant knowledge gaps in families and schools about glasses use in rural China. Cost and the need for attractive styles may not be significant barriers to use in this setting, raising the possibility of paying for such programs through cost recovery.