In the study above, researchers looked at the rate that students with visual impairments in Mexico actually complied with wearing these glasses. What the researchers discovered is that is a high incident of non-compliance amongst students. The factors, for many, were embarrassment or fear that they would be teased for wearing them. By not wearing their glasses, students were exposing themselves to the possibility that their conditions would worsen over time. As the researchers point out: "Thus, precisely those children who stand to benefit most from corrective spectacles for myopia, older, urban children, are the ones at greatest risk for noncompliance."
Far from merely stating the problem, the researchers offer rational and reasonable suggestions for how to combat the low compliance rate. "This suggests the need for two-pronged strategies targeting these key at-risk groups with educational messages explaining the need for spectacle wear and also improved designs with greater esthetic appeal."
The researchers suggest creating frames for students with minor visual impairment in urban areas that are more in line with popular spectacles and providing less attractive spectacles to students in rural areas who are less likely to be taunted.
Even though this study focuses on students living in Mexico, I believe it has huge implications for students in our schools. In the hyper-sensitive world of middle and high school where students constantly worry about their appearance and fitting in, teenagers must make choices that balance both the educational and the perceived social. Not having the resources to correct visual impairment is one thing, but not utilizing the resources one has is quite another. Not only should schools screen for visual impairment, but they must go the extra mile of ensuring that students are doing what is best for them.
by Cary Sabados