Visual impairment, assistive technology and disability in India:
The intervention aims to test the feasibility of high-quality measurement and correction of vision loss in a field setting in India and provide preliminary findings of effects on corrected vision and economic and social wellbeing. Visual impairment is a major source of disease burden and disability among mature adults in India and throughout the developing world. Vision assessment data from the LASI pilot survey have shown that 29% of adults aged 45+ have reduced distance visual acuity and 61% have reduced near visual acuity. Poor vision among mature adults results in increased risks of accidents and falls, reduced work productivity, limitations in activities of daily living and social participation, depression and reduced quality of life (Khanna et al., 2013). Shortage of an appropriate eye care infrastructure in terms of qualified eye care doctors and eye clinics and specialty hospitals with appropriate testing equipment represent major barriers to eye care in India, especially in rural areas. In addition, lack of awareness about eye health and high direct and indirect cost of seeking healthcare may represent additional barriers to more comprehensive use of eye care in India.
The proposed experimental intervention for visual impairment will assess the impact of access to visual aids/treatment on subsequent health, economic and social outcomes of study participants. Along the way, this intervention will also provide evidence on the reliability and use of new handheld and smartphone-based testing devices for eye care in low-resource settings.