A Global Survey of Low Vision Service Provision

Purpose:

To conduct a global survey of low vision services to describe the needs, priorities, and barriers in provision and coverage.

Methods:

Data were mainly derived from a survey and from some secondary sources. The survey was distributed to Vision 2020 contacts, government, and non-government organizations (NGOs) in 195 countries during 2006–2008. Themes in the survey were: epidemiology of low vision, policies on low vision, provision of services, human resources, barriers to service delivery, equipment availability, and monitoring and evaluation of service outcomes. Contradictory and/or incomplete data were returned for further clarification and verification. The Human Poverty Index was used to compare the findings from developed and developing countries.

Results:

Service availability was established for 178/195 countries, with 115 having some low vision service. Approximately half the countries in the African and Western Pacific regions have no services. Few countries have >10 low vision health professionals per 10 million of population. In many of the countries NGOs were the main providers and funders. Funding and awareness were frequently cited as barriers to service access. Women, people with disabilities, and rural dwellers were less likely to access services. There were few reports of monitoring and evaluation into the quality and impact of services.

Conclusion:

This global survey provides the first consolidated baseline of low vision service provision. Where data are available, coverage of services is generally poor. Low vision health professional numbers are low. Services in over half of the world’s countries are funded by NGOs, raising issues of sustainability.

Authors:

Peggy Pei-Chia Chiang, Patricia Mary O’Connor, Richard Thomas Le Mesurier, and Jill Elizabeth Keeffe

Published in:

Ophthalmic Epidemiology 2011 Jun;18(3):109-21

Access full article at  http://informahealthcare.com/doi/full/10.3109/09286586.2011.560745