Prevalence of uncorrected refractive errors, presbyopia and spectacle coverage in marine fishing communities in South India: Rapid Assessment of Visual Impairment (RAVI) project

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Abstract

Purpose:

To investigate the prevalence of uncorrected refractive errors, presbyopia and spectacle coverage in subjects aged 40 years or more using a novel Rapid Assessment of Visual Impairment (RAVI) methodology.

Methods:

A population-based cross-sectional study was conducted using cluster random sampling to enumerate 1700 subjects from 34 clusters predominantly inhabited by marine fishing communities in the Prakasam district of Andhra Pradesh, India. Unaided, aided and pinhole visual acuity (VA) was assessed using a Snellen chart at a distance of 6 m. Near vision was assessed using an N notation chart. Uncorrected refractive error was defined as presenting VA < 6/18 and improving to ≥6/18 with pinhole. Uncorrected presbyopia was defined as binocular near vision worse than N8 in subjects with binocular distance VA ≥ 6/18.

Results:

1560 subjects (response rate – 92%) were available for examination. Of these, 54.6% were female and 10.1% were ≥70 years of age. Refractive error was present in 250 individuals. It was uncorrected in 179 (unmet need) and corrected in 71 (met need) individuals. Among 1094 individuals with no distance visual impairment, presbyopia was present in 494 individuals. It was uncorrected in 439 (unmet need) and corrected in 55 individuals (met need). Spectacle coverage was 28.4% for refractive errors and 11.1% for presbyopia.

Conclusions:

There is a high unmet need for uncorrected refractive errors and presbyopia among marine fishing communities in the Prakasam district of South India. The data from this study can now be used as a baseline prior to the commencement of eye care services in this region.

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