One out of four students who need spectacles does not wear them, often due to teasing and bullying by peers, according to an investigation carried out in India.
Girls are in some cases prevented from wearing spectacles by their own families.
Investigating rates and reasons for not wearing spectacles were the secondary objectives of a study undertaken in public schools in urban and peri-urban areas surrounding Bangalore. Children between 11 and 15 years old were screened for refractive error and prescribed spectacle correction if they had vision less than 20/30 in both eyes and could potentially have their vision improved by two or more lines in the better eye. A total of 460 students received spectacle correction by ready-made or custom-made spectacles. Three to four months later, 362 students were traced and asked during an individual visit at school if they were regularly wearing spectacles and, if not, why.
Ninety-two students (25.4%) were not wearing their spectacles. More frequently, they were children with better vision and/or lower improvement in vision with correction. The most frequent reasons were teasing or bullying by peers (48.9%) and lost, forgotten or stolen spectacles (26.1%). A smaller number of children (7.6%) reported headache or discomfort with spectacle frames, without significant difference between ready-made and custom-made spectacles.
More frequently than boys, girls cited parental disapproval as a reason (11.4%). The authors explained that parents may perceive wearing spectacles as a disability and may be concerned that this would adversely affect the marriage prospects of their daughters.
Involving teachers and planning interventions to reduce teasing and bullying as well as disapproval among parents could potentially improve spectacle wear. However, such interventions are” challenging,” the authors noted, as they “need to address societal norms and attitudes.” – by Michela Cimberle
Disclosure: The authors reported no relevant financial disclosures.