Effect of providing free glasses on children’s educational outcomes in China: cluster randomized controlled trialBMJ 2014; 349 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.g5740 (Published 23 September 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g5740
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Re: Effect of providing free glasses on children’s educational outcomes in China: cluster randomized controlled trial
This article faces the challenge of poor health care, head on, by looking at an often-overlooked component of a comprehensive state care system. The benefits provided by free glasses are clearly outlined here. The unrivalled benefits that correcting vision leads to, should act as the definitive reasoning behind providing them and for the second richest country, cost shouldn’t play a significant role in the argument.
Past literature in this area is mainly focused around hyperopia, which is only logical because of the common myth that textbook learning makes up the main bulk of learning, however this is a very narrow minded approach and indeed taught lessons play a major role in the learning process and indeed, often, distant learn can play a pivotal role in this. The study focus on blackboards as the main schooling method, for whole group teaching, however in this technological age examples of students being required to visualise distant objects is becoming increasing common for example, with PowerPoint presentations and Overhead projectors being a staple on many curriculums.
An interesting point to take away from this study is that whilst ultimately vouchers amount to the same thing, that is, the provision of free glasses, this provided less significant data and it would be important when implementing national change, not to rely on the easier voucher method but to commit to making the harder alternative work. Furthermore it is most interesting that education added into the provision of free glasses did not improve values relating to either of the study aims and in future maybe the material used to educate, needs to be reviewed and updated, especially in areas where there is confusion or a lack of knowledge.
The benefit of free glasses is clearly biological, supported, in this article, by weighted analyses of blackboard usage in a classroom, but perhaps there is more to it. Fringe benefits are often used by companies to boost morale and to motivate employees, that is they are motivated by the act of kindness, I wonder if the same motivational undertone is present here, in addition to the obvious biological improvement that will be seen.
Away from increased academic performance correcting students visual disorders will also improve their quality of life, prevent any visually related complications such as regular headaches and by educating the younger generation in China hopefully the myth that glasses worsen vision will also be dispelled.
The benefits of providing free glasses are clear, in countries where buying them represents a significant purchase, it allows children to have corrected vision without worsening their families financial position, it allows students to engage more in lessons where distant teaching methods are utilised and, more importantly than anything, it allows students to escape the world of fuzzy vision and enter a world of visual clarity.
Competing interests: No competing interests