OBJECTIVE: To estimate the effect of providing free spectacles on uncorrected visual acuity (VA) among urban migrant Chinese school children.
DESIGN: Exploratory analysis from a parallel cluster-randomised clinical trial.
METHODS: After baseline survey and VA screening, eligible children were randomised by school to receive one of the two interventions: free glasses and a teacher incentive (tablet computer if ≥80% of children given glasses were wearing them on un-announced examination) (treatment group) or glasses prescription and letter to parents (control group). The primary outcome was uncorrected logarithm of the minimal angle of resolution (LogMAR) VA at study closeout, adjusted for baseline uncorrected VA.
RESULTS: Among 4376 randomly selected children, 728 (16.6%, mean age 10.9 years, 51.0% boys) at 94 schools failed VA screening and met eligibility criteria. Of these, 358 children (49.2%) at 47 schools were randomised to treatment and 370 children (50.8%) at 47 schools to control. Among these, 679 children (93.3%) completed follow-up and underwent analysis. Spectacle wear in the treatment and control groups was 68.3% and 29.3% (p<0.001), respectively. Uncorrected final VA for eyes of treatment children was significantly better than control children, adjusting only for baseline VA (difference of 0.039 LogMAR units, 95% CI: 0.008, 0.070, equivalent to 0.39 lines, p=0.014) or baseline VA and other baseline factors (0.040 LogMAR units, 95% CI 0.007 to 0.074, equivalent to 0.40 lines, p=0.020).
CONCLUSION: We found no evidence that spectacles wear worsens children's uncorrected VA among urban migrant Chinese school children.