Farmers are among 58% of India’s population who rely on agriculture for their livelihood. Farmers are at higher risk for work related eye injuries, some of which can be fatal. One of the responsibilities of Optometrist is to provide vision correction for such unorganized sector. Optometry Council of India (OCI) and Essilor Vision Foundation (EVF) joined hands in August 2021 to screen 300 farmers of various farming methods such as Aracnut, Paddy and Banana plantation. This project was implemented through three partners:
- Acchutha Institute of Optometry, Erode
- Department of Optometry, Manipal College of Health professions, Department of community medicine, Kasturba Medical College, MAHE, Manipal and
- Sankara Nethralaya, Chennai.
This was a pilot project to assess the ocular health, work related ocular needs as well as hazards and compliance in using safety eyewear among farmers. This project was conducted in different phases consisting of task analysis, comprehensive eye examination, distribution of spectacles and protective eyewear, compliance of spectacle prescribed and feedback through focus group discussions.
A questionnaire was used to arrive at the task of individual farmers, to understand vision demands to perform most commonly used task and occupation hazards were estimated. Questions related to farming were also asked to estimate their farming experience, difficulties and visual needs during work. Comprehensive examination included, visual acuity testing, subjective and objective refraction, anterior and posterior segment evaluation, IOP check and basic binocular vision assessment.
Visual complaints, ocular complaints, past ocular injuries were noted while recording ocular history. Based on all the data collected and ocular examination, if the farmer had refractive error correction, spectacles (as per the farming task ) and/or safety prescription eyewear were prescribed for the farmers. EVF provided the farmers with prescription spectacles and safety eyewear, free of cost.
Once the farmers had spent 2 weeks with these prescribed spectacles, they were subjected to compliance questionnaire to know the reasons of compliance or noncompliance of wearing prescription spectacles and protective eyewear. It is important to understand the psychology of the spectacle/safety eyewear wearer, their difficulty or ease while using the spectacle and modification or expectations in future, during each screening camp. Focus group discussions for the same purpose were conducted.
OCI’s partner institutes were able to conduct examination for 276 farmers of which 193 farmers were prescribed spectacle and/or protective eyewear. This project is unique and one of its kind as for each farmer spectacles and protective eyewear were prescribed based on their task related need and visual demand. This also explains the higher rate of compliance in the current project, of 93% for spectacle and protective eyewear use. At OCI, we are inclined to take learnings of this Farmer’s project and scale it up high to help more farmers of India.
The entire project report can be read from the OCI website : www.optometrycouncilofindia.org