Distributing glasses to improve access to education in rural China

A study led by Queen’s University Belfast has explored the benefits of giving children in the Guangdong province of Southern China adjustable glasses

Adjustable spectacles

New research published in Ophthalmology has explored the benefits of distributing self-adjustable glasses to children in rural China.
The study was led by Queen’s University Belfast and carried out by Orbis International in partnership with the Zhongshan Ophthalmic Centre in Guangzhou, China.

A group of 379 participants between the ages of 11 and 16 were given either standard, ready-made or adjustable glasses.

Children given adjustable glasses had better visual acuity outcomes than those with standard glasses, although those with adjustable glasses wore them slightly less frequently than those assigned standard glasses.

Professor Nathan Congdon, from Queen’s University Belfast, shared that the study supported the idea that self-refraction can contribute to a child’s visual health in less developed and remote areas.

“We have found that adjustable glasses offer essentially the same standard as prescribed glasses in terms of accuracy and vision,” he said.

“In the long-term we see adjustable glasses as a way to increase the range and impact of vision professionals, rather than as a replacement for them,” Professor Congdon emphasised.

He added that the approach would enable optometrists to come into a school and examine the 10% of children with poor vision that could not be adequately improved with self-refraction.

“This could greatly increase access to scarce eye health resources in underserved rural settings,” Professor Congdon concluded.

Image credit: Queen’s University Belfast