Impact of Uncorrected Vision on Productivity - A study in an Industrial setting a Pair of Spectacles
K. B. Pradhan
Eye tests were conducted among 238 factory workers and prescription spectacles were supplied to employees needing vision correction.
187 workers needed vision correction, which is around 80% of the total number tested.
Of these 187 needing vision correction, 169 (75%) had presbyopia and needed glasses for near vision correction.
Spinners who were given vision correction showed an average improvement of 9.5% (with a standard error in the mean of 1.6); 44% improved their productivity by 10% more on previous output levels, while 23% exceeded previous output levels by 20%.
The winders showed less change after the provision of spectacles, with 23% increasing their productivity by 10% of the factory standard, demonstrating that this task created less demand on workers’ visual acuity.
A significantly higher proportion of industry workers have poor vision due to refractive error, yet they are not correcting this error unless the vision problem is a major hurdle in their work and social life.
The prevalence of blindness due to refractive error in an Indian population was reported to be 0.36%.
Background: According to the World Health Organization (WHO) around one billion people worldwide in developing countries need vision correction. Uncorrected vision is believed to be responsible for a widespread loss of labour productivity and quality, reading and literacy problems, and other problems such as road and domestic accidents. There is however, a lack of data on both the prevalence and the effects of uncorrected vision. As a result, governments and funding agencies have been hesitant to prioritise vision correction in their health and social development agenda. This acute lack of access to vision correction across the developing world is primarily due to inadequate number of eye care professionals, facilities and the high cost of providing spectacles.
Objective: As there are not any studies in the area of uncorrected vision and impact on productivity, this study was undertaken as a pilot study with an intention of understanding the impact of productivity among employees needing vision correction in comparison with those not needing correction but doing identical work, and to measure subsequent changes in productivity following vision correction among the former group through the supply of prescription spectacles.
Method: The research was undertaken among a group of 238 workers engaged in spinning and winding function at a cotton spinning and textile factory in Madurai. The productivity data was collected for 30 working shifts for each employee. Then the eye test was done by a team comprising of Ophthalmologist and Optometrist from Aravind Eye Hospital (WHO Collaborating Centre) and given the corrective glass to those who were prescribed the correction. Then after a month of gap given to get used to the glasses, again the productivity data was collected for 30 working shifts for all the samples in the first phase and analysed.
Results: Out of the 238 (111 Spinners + 127 Winders) workers undergone eyesight testing, 187 (90 Spinners + 97 Winders) workers needed vision correction which is around 80% of the total test done. Of these 187 needing vision correction, 169 (75%) were presbyopic and needed glasses for near vision correction. All those who were identified as needing vision correction were given spectacles. In terms of productivity measurement, though there were problems in tracking the data each employee wise due to various reasons as the industry was undergoing a transition at that point of time. With the best available data, the spinners showed an average improvement of 9.5% (with a standard error in the mean of 1.6); 44% improved their productivity by more 10% on previous output levels whilst 23% exceeded them by 20%. The winders showed less change after the provision of spectacles with 23% increasing their productivity by 10% of the factory standard, demonstrating that this task made less demand on workers visual acuity.
Conclusion: A significantly higher proportion of industry workers in In having poor vision due to Refractive error. They never try to correct this error unless the vision problem is a major hurdle in their work and social life. The ignorance may be due to, not a painful problem, access to immediate services in eye care, cost of services, inconvenience in using a foreign object, cosmetic value, no realization of quality and performance attached to work.