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RESEARCH STUDY

RESEARCH

Correction of Refractive Error and Presbyopia in Timor-Leste

AUTHOR:

J. Ramke, R. du Toit, G. Brian, and T. Naduvilath

SPONSOR/INSTITUTION:

YEAR PUBLISHED:

2007

PUBLICATION:

Br J Ophthalmol

KEY HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Lower correction coverage was associated with rural domicile, illiteracy and farming.

  • 96% of the sample was willing to wear spectacles correcting impaired vision.

  • Women and rural dwellers were less likely to be willing to pay for spectacles.

  • Population-based study of spectacles use in southern India.

Aim: To investigate the aspects of spectacle correction of vision-impairing refractive error and presbyopia in those aged >40 years in Timor-Leste.


Method: A population-based cross-sectional survey with cluster random sampling was used to select 50 clusters of 30 people. Those who had uncorrected or undercorrected refractive error (presenting acuity worse than 6/18, but at least 6/18 with pinhole), uncorrected or undercorrected presbyopia (near vision worse than N8), and/or who were using or had used spectacles were identified. Dispensing history, willingness to wear and willingness to pay for spectacles were elicited.


Results: Of 1470 people enumerated, 1414 were examined (96.2%). The ‘‘met refractive error need’’ in the sample was 2.2%, and the ‘‘unmet refractive error need’’ was 11.7%. The ‘‘refractive error correction coverage’’ was 15.7%. The ‘‘met presbyopic need’’ was 11.5%, and the ‘‘unmet presbyopic need’’ was 32.3%. The ‘‘presbyopia correction coverage’’ was 26.2%. Lower correction coverage was associated with rural domicile, illiteracy and farming. Of the sample, 96.0% were willing to wear spectacles correcting impaired vision. Of these, 17.0% were willing to pay US$3 (£1.52, J2.24) for spectacles, whereas 50.2% were unwilling to pay US$1 (£0.51, J0.75). Women and rural dwellers were less likely to be willing to pay at least US$1 for spectacles.


Conclusion: Refractive error and presbyopia correction coverage rates are low in Timor-Leste. There is a large need for spectacles, especially for elderly and illiterate people, farmers and rural dwellers: those least able to pay for them. An equitable cross-subsidisation spectacle system should be possible.