Visual Impairment and Spectacles Ownership among Upper Secondary School Students in Northwestern China

Journal Article

Published By

Hong Kong Medical Journal

February 2020

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To assess the prevalence of visual impairment and spectacles ownership among academic and vocational upper secondary school students in rural China.

This cross-sectional study included 5583 students from four academic upper secondary schools (AUSSs) and two vocational upper secondary schools (VUSSs) in Mei and Qianyang counties, Baoji Prefecture, Shaanxi Province. In March and April 2016, students underwent assessment of visual acuity (VA) and completed a questionnaire regarding spectacles use and family characteristics. Students with visual impairment (presenting VA ≤6/12 in the better eye) and students needing spectacles (uncorrected VA ≤6/12 in the better eye, which could be improved to >6/12 with refraction) were identified.

Among 5583 students (54% boys, mean age 16.4±1.0 years) in grades 10 and grade 11 attending AUSSs (n=4549) and VUSSs (n=1034), visual impairment was detected in 4026 students. Among the AUSS students, 3425 (75%) needed spectacles; 2551 (75%) had them. Among the VUSS students, 601 (58%) needed spectacles; this proportion was significantly smaller (P=0.004), as was the proportion who had spectacles (n=212, 35%, P<0.001), compared with the AUSS students. Multivariate analysis showed that ownership of spectacles among children who needed them was associated with worse uncorrected VA (P<0.001), male sex (P<0.001), and residence in an urban area (P<0.034). Spectacles ownership was also strongly associated with AUSS education (P<0.001).

There is a high rate of unmet need in visual care among upper secondary school students. Lack of spectacles ownership among children who needed them was significantly associated with VUSS education.

China; Eyeglasses; Rural population; Students; Vision disorders

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