Prevalence of visual impairment (VI) and access to services can vary significantly across and between different population groups. With renewed focus on universal health coverage and leaving no one behind, it is important to understand factors driving inequitable eye health. This paper presents results from five population-based surveys where prevalence of VI and cataract surgical coverage (CSC) were measured and examined for differences by sex, economic-status, and disability.
Rapid assessments of avoidable blindness took place in four rural sites: Kalahandi, Jhabua and Sitapur in India; and Singida, Tanzania; and one urban site: Lahore, Pakistan. In addition, the was used to measure economic status and the was used to measure disability. Prevalence of VI and CSC were calculated and associations with sex, disability, and relative wealth examined.
Prevalence of VI varied from 1.9% in Lahore to 15.0% in Kalahandi. CSC varied from 39.1% in Singida to 84.0% in Lahore. Additional disability was associated with greater levels of VI in all sites and lower CSC in Singida. Being female was associated with higher VI in Kalahandi, Lahore and Singida and lower CSC in Lahore and Singida. Being poorer was associated with higher VI in Singida and lower CSC in Singida and Sitapur.
Relationships between VI and relative wealth, sex, and disability are complex and variable. Although certain characteristics may be associated with lower coverage or worse outcomes, they cannot be generalized and local data are vital to tailor services to achieve good coverage.