Attitudes and perceptions of Sudanese high-school students and their parents towards spectacle wear

13 Aug 2020

Uncorrected refractive error is a major cause of avoidable vision impairment and may have significant impact on social life, education and economic prospects of people. This condition could be easily treated by wearing spectacles, but because of attitudes and misconceptions of some communities towards spectacle wear and eye care, such methods are underutilised. Aim: To assess the attitudes and perceptions of Sudanese high-school students and their parents towards spectacle wear. Setting: The study was conducted in eight randomly selected high schools from the South Darfur state of Sudan. Methods: A cross-sectional school-based study comprising 387 high-school students with age ranging from 12 to 17 years together with 47 students? parents with age ranging from 32 to 52 years. Quantitative and qualitative methods were used to collect data from eight high schools. Semi-structured questionnaires were distributed to collect the quantitative data, and seven focus group meetings were held in the schools with students? parents to derive the qualitative data. Results: The fi revealed that 39%, 32% and 27.1% of the students believed that wearing spectacles affected their opportunities for education, employment and marriage, respectively. A total of 36.4% of the students believed that wearing spectacles could lead to making the eyes weaker or could damage the eyes, resulting in early blindness, and 22.5% of the respondents believed that spectacles were only for older people. In general, the perception towards spectacle wear was different between genders, with females appearing to be more vulnerable to social and psychological distress when wearing spectacles compared to males. A total of 79% of the parents were aware that wearing spectacles would improve vision if an eye doctor prescribed the spectacles. However, parents reported that the disadvantages of wearing spectacles were that they reduced the power of the eyes and spectacle wear had psychological effects, particularly among females. Parents felt that their children had lost an important asset, that the community looked at them as handicapped and that their children would be blind in future. Conclusion: The fear and stigma related to the use of spectacles are widely experienced among students and their parents in Sudan, and particularly among females. Eye health education programmes should be broadcast through the public media to promote awareness and benefits about spectacle wear and eye care.