|Teachers are often the crucial link|
REAP research on uncorrected vision in rural China has revealed that even when given free, high quality glasses, only about 35 percent of low vision children actually wear them. When the glasses are provided with a comprehensive set of information about the value of vision care, uptake rises by only about 5 percent.
Our observational data suggests that one of the main ways to improve rates of eyeglasses uptake by having a teacher encourage children (either explicitly or by example) to wear glasses. Teachers play a key role in the lives of children as a regular fixture in the their day-to-day lives.
Alongside our larger study of the prevalence of uncorrected vision among 4,408 migrant elementary students, we formed a teacher incentive group that was given an incentive (an IPad) for encouraging students to wear their glasses while at school.
How important was the role of the teacher in boosting eyeglasses wear? We visited each school 3 times and secretly counted the number of nearsighted children wearing their glasses. In classes where teachers were incentivized, wear rate was 80 percent in students. In classes where teachers were not incentivized, wear rate was only 9 percent.
Our findings add yet another crucial piece to the picture: Securing teacher buy-in is key for ensuring high eyeglasses wear rates among children. Without support from teachers, any national vision care plan for rural areas is likely to fall flat.