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Myopia and Depression among Middle School Students in China—Is There a Mediating Role for Wearing Eyeglasses?

Juerong Huang, Hongjing Dang, Yan Cai, Juan Liu and Qihui Chen
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Hongjing Dang: College of Economics and Management, China Agricultural University, Beijing 100083, China
Yan Cai: College of Economics and Management, China Agricultural University, Beijing 100083, China
Juan Liu: College of Economics and Management, China Agricultural University, Beijing 100083, China

IJERPH, 2022, vol. 19, issue 20, 1-18

Abstract: Compared with non-myopic students, myopic students face more barriers to learning (e.g., inability to see the blackboard clearly) and socializing (e.g., being victims of teasing, social exclusion and violence), which may lead to increased stress, anxiety and frustration. The high prevalence of myopia and depression among school-age children naturally raises a question of great policy relevance: are myopic students more vulnerable to mental health problems such as depression? This paper sheds some light on this question by analyzing data from the China Education Panel Survey, a large-scale survey of China’s middle school students. Our analysis first quantifies the association between myopia and sample students’ depression status (measured by the widely adopted CES-D scale) adjusted for potential confounding factors. We then explore whether the myopia–depression relationship is mediated by wearing eyeglasses, a cost-effective means of vision correction. Based on data on 19,299 middle school students, our analysis reveals that myopic students scored 0.12 standard deviations higher on the CES-D scale than their non-myopic counterparts. The adverse effect of myopia is more severe for relatively disadvantaged students: older students (who are more likely to suffer from both myopia and depression), lower-performing students and students from poorer families. Further medication analysis shows that wearing eyeglasses suppresses the myopia–depression relationship but cannot completely offset the adverse effect of myopia.

Keywords: myopia; mental health; depression; eyeglasses; education; China (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I I1 I3 Q Q5 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
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