Randomized, controlled trial of an educational intervention to promote spectacle use in rural China: the see well to learn well study

Ophthalmology. 2011 Dec;118(12):2343-50. doi: 10.1016/j.ophtha.2011.06.016. Epub 2011 Sep 1.


Objective: To test an educational intervention promoting the purchase of spectacles among Chinese children.

Design: Randomized, controlled trial.

Participants: Children in years 1 and 2 of all 20 junior and senior high schools (ages 12-17 years) in 3 rural townships in Guangdong, China.

Methods: Children underwent visual acuity (VA) testing, and parents of participants with presenting VA worse than 6/12 in either eye improving by more than 2 lines with cycloplegic refraction were recommended to purchase glasses. Children at 10 randomly selected schools received a lecture, video, and classroom demonstration promoting spectacle purchase.

Main outcome measures: Self-reported purchase of spectacles (primary outcome) and observed wear or possession of newly purchased glasses (secondary outcome) at follow-up examinations (mean, 219 ± 87 days after the baseline visit).

Results: Among 15 404 eligible children, examinations were completed for 6379 (74.6%) at intervention schools and 5044 (73.6%) at control schools. Spectacles were recommended for 2236 (35.1%) children at intervention schools and for 2212 (43.9%) at control schools. Of these, 417 (25.7%) intervention schools children and 537 (34.0%, P = 0.45) control schools children reported buying glasses. Predictors of purchase in regression models included female gender (P = 0.02), worse uncorrected VA (P < 0.001), and higher absolute value of refractive error (P = 0.001). Neither the rate of self-reported purchase of glasses or observed wear or possession of newly purchased glasses differed between control schools and intervention schools in mixed-effect logistic regression models. Among children not purchasing glasses, 21.7% had better-eye VA of worse than 6/18.

Conclusions: An intervention based on extensive pilot testing and focus groups in the area failed to promote spectacle purchase or wear. The high burden of remaining uncorrected poor vision underscores the need to develop better interventions.

Financial disclosure(s): The author(s) have no proprietary or commercial interest in any materials discussed in this article.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Asian Continental Ancestry Group
  • Child
  • China / epidemiology
  • Early Intervention, Educational*
  • Eyeglasses / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Health Promotion*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Patient Compliance
  • Prescriptions / statistics & numerical data
  • Refractive Errors / epidemiology
  • Refractive Errors / therapy*
  • Rural Population / statistics & numerical data*
  • Schools
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Visual Acuity / physiology
  • Visually Impaired Persons / rehabilitation*
  • Visually Impaired Persons / statistics & numerical data