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Year : 2018  |  Volume : 66  |  Issue : 7  |  Page : 957-962

Incorporating primary eye care into primary health care: Piloting a perceived visual disability questionnaire based model in rural southern India – An observational study

1 Department of Ophthalmology, Christian Medical College, Vellore, Tamil Nadu, India
2 Occupational Therapy, Christian Medical College, Vellore, Tamil Nadu, India
3 Community Health, Christian Medical College, Vellore, Tamil Nadu, India

Correspondence Address:
Padma Paul
Department of Ophthalmology, Christian Medical College, Schell Eye Hospital Campus, Arni Road, Kosapet, Vellore - 632 001, Tamil Nadu
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijo.IJO_144_18

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Purpose: Over 20% of the world's visually impaired and blind populations live in India. Integration of primary eye care (PEC) into existing primary health care by trained personnel could address access-related barriers. We piloted an unreported, modified WHO disability questionnaire-based model for community health workers (CHWs) to screen and refer persons with perceived visual impairment instead of the traditional visual acuity model. The objective of the study was (1) to determine the prevalence of perceived visual impairment, rate of follow-up postreferral, distribution of ocular morbidity, visual impairment, and proportion of appropriate referrals and (2) to compare results of this intervention with those of existing services. Methods: CHWs were trained in administering a questionnaire for identification and referral of persons with perceived visual impairment in 7 rural villages and 22 tribal hamlets from the institutional database. In this cross-sectional study, patients screened and referred to PEC services from September 2014 to March 2015 underwent comprehensive ocular examination by an optometrist and ophthalmologist. Data collected from their records were analyzed retrospectively. Results: Of 18,534 individuals screened, 3082 (16.64%, 95% confidence interval: 16.06–17.14) complained of perceived visual impairment and were referred; 463 (15%) of these followed up for examination. Correct referrals were noted in 452 (97.6%) cases. Cataract (52.3%) and refractive error (15.8%) were the most common morbidities. There was a 39.6% increase in uptake of eye care services from baseline. Conclusion: The questionnaire-based screening tool administered by CHWs can lead to appropriate identification and referral of persons with ocular morbidity impacting uptake of eye care services.

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