Prevalence of Eye Illnesses in Low-income Urban Communities in Dhaka, Bangladesh

Overview
Visual impairment is a major health concern across the world, especially in developing countries. In Bangladesh, around 650,000 people aged 30 years and above are suffering from visual impairment. Many factors hinder the ability to seek health care for eye illnesses including lack of awareness about eye diseases and eye care facilities; socioeconomic, cultural or psychological barriers, ignorance, etc. In order to improve the eye health situation in Bangladesh, eye care services must reach remote areas and be included in primary health care services. BRAC has been working with the government to improve the situation of eye care service through the Vision Bangladesh Project.

Most studies in both global and Bangladesh contexts have primarily focused on visual impairment. There was no study which investigated prevalence of all types of eye illnesses in Bangladesh, regardless of visual impairment. This study was conducted to estimate the community-based prevalence of any kind of eye illnesses in slum dwellers, one of the most vulnerable and poor communities. The outcome of this study will not only help in the formulation of the policy, but also support the designing of community-based programmes to address the eye care needs of vulnerable populations.

Activities
This study was conducted in two stages; the first stage was conducted in collaboration with BRAC’s Health, Nutrition and Population Programme (HNPP). A survey was conducted among participants aged 18 years and above from 1,320 randomly selected households from three slums in Dhaka (Shabujbag, Mirpur and Mohammadpur). Demographic and economic information of the participants as well as the families were taken in the survey. All interviewed participants were invited for free eye examinations at three selected eye care facilities.
During the second stage, willing survey participants underwent free eye examination at the three eye care facilities (Ad-din Women’s Medical College and Hospital, Bangladesh National Society for Blinds Dhaka Eye Hospital and Voluntary Association for Rural Development Eye Hospital).

Partners/donor

Donor: Health Nutrition and Population Programme, BRAC