This systematic review and meta-analysis summarizes existing evidence to establish whether vision impairment, ocular morbidity and their treatment are associated with depression and anxiety in children.
Understanding and quantifying these associations support early detection and management of mental health symptoms in children with vision impairment and ocular morbidity. Additionally, this review provides evidence in favour of insurance coverage for timely strabismus surgery.
We searched nine electronic databases from inception to February 18, 2021, including observational and interventional studies assessing whether vision impairment and/or ocular morbidity and their treatment are associated with depression and/or anxiety in children. We used narrative synthesis and meta-analysis with the residual maximum likelihood method. A protocol was registered and published on The International Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews (PROSPERO, CRD42021233323).
Among 28,992 studies, 28,956 (99.9%) were excluded as duplicates or unrelated content. Among 36 remaining studies, 21 (58.3%) were observational studies concerning vision impairment, eight (22.2%) were observational studies concerning strabismus, and seven (19.4%) were interventional studies. Vision-impaired children experienced significantly higher scores of depression (Standard Mean Difference [SMD] 0.57, 95% Confidence Interval (CI) 0.26-0.89, 11 studies) and anxiety (SMD 0.61, 95% CI 0.40-0.821, 14 studies) than normally-sighted children. In particular, myopic children experienced higher scores of depression (SMD 0.59, 95% CI 0.36-0.81, six studies) than normally-sighted children. Strabismus surgery significantly improved symptoms of depression (SMD: 0.59 95% CI 0.12-1.06, three studies) and anxiety (SMD: 0.69 95% CI 0.24-1.14, four studies) in children.
Among children, vision impairment is associated with greater symptoms of depression and anxiety. Surgical treatment of strabismus improved these symptoms. Further randomized controlled trials exploring the impact of public health measures for myopia correction on mental health in children are needed. Scaling up access to strabismus surgery could improve the mental health of affected children.
Purpose: To determine the prevalence of visual impairment and glasses ownership among Han Chinese and Hui minority junior high school children in Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, China.
Design: Population-based cross-sectional study.
Methods: Vision screening was conducted on 20,376 children (age 12–15 years) in all 124 rural junior high schools in Ningxia. Personal and family characteristics, glasses ownership, and academic performance were assessed through a survey questionnaire and standardized mathematics test, respectively.
Results: The prevalence of visual acuity (VA) ≤6/12 in either eye was significantly higher among Han (54.5%) than Hui (45.2%) children (P<0.001), and was significantly positively associated with age, female sex, Han ethnicity, parental outmigration for work, shorter time spent outside during recess, shorter time spent watching television and higher time spent studying. Among children with VA≤6/12 in both eyes, only 56.8% of Han and 41.5% of Hui children had glasses (P<0.001). Glasses ownership was significantly associated with worse vision, greater family wealth, female sex, higher test scores, age, parental outmigration for work, understanding of myopia and glasses, higher time spent studying and Han ethnicity.
Conclusion: One of the first of its kind, this report on Han and Hui ethnic schoolchildren confirms a high prevalence of visual impairment among both populations, but slightly higher among the Han. Both groups, especially the Hui, have low rates of glasses ownership. Future interventions and policies designed to improve glasses usage should focus on populations with lower incomes and seek to correct erroneous beliefs about the safety of glasses and efficacy of traditional eye exercises.
Abstract: Visual impairment is common among rural Chinese children, but fewer than a quarter of children who need glasses actually own and use them. To study the effect of rural county hospital vision centers (VC) on self-reported glasses ownership and wearing behavior (primary outcome) among rural children in China, we conducted a cluster-randomized controlled trial at a VC in the government hospital of Qinan County, a nationally-designated poor county. All rural primary schools (n = 164) in the county were invited to participate. Schools were randomly assigned to either the treatment group to receive free vision care and eyeglasses, if needed, or control group, who received glasses only at the end of the study. Among 2806 eligible children with visiual impairment (visual acuity ≤ 6/12 in either eye), 93 (3.31%) were lost to follow-up, leaving 2713 students (45.0% boys). Among these, glasses ownership at the end of the school year was 68.6% among 1252 treatment group students (82 schools), and 26.4% (p < 0.01) among 1461 controls (82 schools). The rate of wearing glasses was 55.2% in the treatment group and 23.4% (p < 0.01) among the control group. In logistic regression models, treatment group membership was significantly associated with spectacle ownership (Odds Ratio [OR] = 11.9, p < 0.001) and wearing behavior (OR = 7.2, p < 0.001). County hospital-based vision centers appear effective in delivering childrens’ glasses in rural China.
Can a county-based vision center increase eyeglasses use and improve school performance among primary schoolchildren in rural China? This cluster randomized clinical trial of 31 schools and 2613 participants showed that children who received eyeglasses earlier in the school year performed significantly better on an end-of-year mathematics test than children who received eyeglasses later in the year, equivalent to half a semester. Provision of free eyeglasses also improved children's use of spectacles.
Purpose: The impact of school-time wear of glasses on children’s education has been shown to be limited by lack of regular compliance in half or more of children, even when free glasses are given. We sought to study the impact of free glasses combined with teacher incentives on in-school use of glasses among Chinese urban migrant children.
Purpose: To study the effect of free glasses combined with teacher incentives on in-school glasses wear among Chinese urban migrant children.
Design: A cluster randomized trial.
Methods: Children with visual acuity (VA) ≤6/12 in either eye owing to refractive error in 94 randomly chosen primary schools underwent randomization by school to receive free glasses, education on their use, and a teacher incentive (Intervention), or glasses prescriptions only (Control). Intervention group teachers received a tablet computer if ≥80% of children given glasses wore them during unannounced visits 6 weeks and 6 months (main outcome) after intervention.
Results: Among 4376 children, 728 (16.7%, mean age 10.9 years, 51.0% boys) met enrollment criteria and were randomly allocated, 358 (49.2%, 47 schools) to Intervention and 370 (50.8%, 47 schools) to Control. Among these, 693 children (95.2%) completed the study and underwent analysis. Spectacle wear was significantly higher at 6 months among Intervention children (Observed [main outcome]: 68.3% vs 23.9%, adjusted odds ratio [OR] = 11.5, 95% confidence interval [CI] 5.91–22.5, P < .001; Self-reported: 90.6% vs 32.1%, OR = 43.7, 95% CI = 21.7–88.5, P < .001). Other predictors of observed wear at 6 months included baseline spectacle wear (P < .001), uncorrected VA <6/18 (P = .01), and parental spectacle wear (P = .02). The 6-month observed wear rate was only 41% among similar-aged children provided free glasses in our previous trial without teacher incentives.
Conclusions: Free spectacles and teacher incentives maintain classroom wear in the large majority of children needing glasses over a school year. Low wear among Control children demonstrates the need for interventions.
Importance: The number of urban migrants in China is 300 million and is increasing rapidly in response to government policies. Urban migrants have poor access to health care, but little is known about rates of correction of refractive error among migrant children. This is of particular significance in light of recent evidence demonstrating the educational impact of providing children with spectacles.
Objective: To measure prevalence of spectacle need and ownership among Chinese migrant children.
Design, Setting, and Participants: Population-based, cross-sectional study among children who failed vision testing (uncorrected visual acuity ≤6/12 in either eye) between September 15 and 30, 2013, at 94 randomly selected primary schools in predominantly migrant communities in Shanghai, Suzhou, and Wuxi, China.
Main Outcomes and Measures: Refractive error by cycloplegic refraction; spectacle ownership, defined as producing glasses at school, having been told to bring them; and needing glasses, defined as uncorrected visual acuity of 6/12 or less correctable to greater than 6/12 in either eye, with myopia of −0.5 diopters (D) or less, hyperopia of +2.0 D or greater, or astigmatism of 0.75 D or greater in both eyes.
Results: Among 4409 children, 4376 (99.3%) completed vision screening (mean [SD] age, 11.0 [0.81] years; 55.3% boys; 4225 [96.5%] migrant and 151 [3.5%] local). Among 1204 children failing vision testing (total, 27.5%; 1147 migrant children [27.1%] vs 57 local children [37.7%]; P = .003), 850 (70.6%) completed refraction. Spectacle ownership in migrant children needing glasses (147 of 640 children [23.0%]) was less than among local children (12 of 34 children [35.3%]) (odds ratio = 0.55; 95% CI, 0.32-0.95; P = .03). Having uncorrected visual acuity less than 6/18 in both eyes was associated positively with baseline spectacle ownership (odds ratio = 5.73; 95% CI, 3.81-8.62; P < .001), but parental education and family wealth were not.
Conclusions and Revelance: Among urban migrant children, there was a high prevalence of need for spectacles and a very low rate of spectacle ownership. Spectacle distribution programs are needed specifically targeting migrant children.
Currently available data on myopia and spectacle wear are drawn largely from China’s richer and middle-income areas, and little is known about refractive error and spectacle wear in the lowest income provinces. Studies from China and elsewhere suggest that large differences in myopia prevalence may exist between areas of different socioeconomic status within countries, but reasons for these differences are not well understood.
Using a survey of 19,977 children in two provinces, this paper explores the prevalence, correlates and potential consequences of poor vision among children in China's vast but understudied rural areas. We ﬁnd that 24% of sample students suffer from reduced uncorrected visual acuity in either eye and 16% in both eyes. Poor vision is signiﬁcantly correlated with individual, parental and family characteristics, with modest magnitudes for all correlates but home province and grade level. The results also suggest a possible adverse impact of poor vision on academic performance and mental health, particularly among students with severe poor vision.
This paper examines the prevalence of vision problems and accessibility to and quality of vision care in rural China. We obtained data from 4 sources: 1) the National Rural Vision Care Survey; 2) the Private Optometrists Survey; 3) the County Hospital Eye Care Survey; and 4) the Rural School Vision Care Survey. The data from each of the surveys were collected by the authors during 2012. Thirty-three percent of the rural population surveyed self-reported vision problems. Twenty-two percent of subjects surveryed had ever had a vision exam.
Objective: To study for the first time using a clinical trial the effect of free glasses on academic performance in rural Chinese children, among whom uncorrected myopia is the leading cause of visual impairment.
Participants: Among 19,934 children in grades 4 and 5 randomly selected for visual acuity screening, 3177 (15.9%, mean age 10.5 years) had visual acuity < 6/12 in either eye without glasses correctable to > 6/12 with glasses, and were eligible for allocation. Among these, 3052 (96.0%) completed the study.
Interventions: Children were randomized by school (84 schools per arm) to one of three interventions at the beginning of the school year: free glasses provided in class, vouchers for free glasses at a local facility or glasses prescriptions only (Control group).
Results: Among 3177 eligible children, 1036 (32.6%), 988 (31.1%) and 1153 (36.3%) were randomized to Control, Voucher and Free Glasses respectively. All eligible children would benefit from glasses, but only 15% had them at baseline. Intention-to-treat analyses were performed on all 1002 (96.8%), 946 (95.9%) and 1104 (95.8%) children completing final testing in Control, Voucher and Free Glasses groups. Effect on test score was 0.11 SD (95% Confidence Interval [CI] 0.01 to 0.21, p = 0.03) comparing the Free Glasses and Control groups. Adjusted effect of providing free glasses (0.10 SD, 95% CI 0.01 to 0.20; p = 0.04) was greater than parental education (0.03, 95% CI -0.03 to 0.10) or family wealth (0.002, 95% CI -0.07 to 0.07). Closeout glasses wear was 41% (observed), 68% (self-reported) in the Free Glasses group.
Conclusions: Providing free glasses improves children's performance on mathematics testing to a statistically significant degree, despite imperfect compliance. Myopia is common and rarely corrected in this setting.