Poverty and Eye Health
Jyoti Jaggernath, Lene Øverland, Prasidh Ramson, Vilas Kovai, Ving Fai Chan, Kovin S. Naidoo
African Vision Research Institute, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa. Orbis Africa, Cape Town, South Africa. Orbis Africa, Cape Town, South Africa. Brien Holden Vision Institute, Sydney, Australia. Brien Holden Vision Institute, Durban, South Africa. African Vision Research Institute, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa.
Poverty and eye health, including vision disability from vision impairment and blindness, are believed to be interrelated. The relationship between poverty and eye health can be interpreted as being two-fold, in the sense that poverty may be a cause of poor eye health and poor eye health may lead to or deepen poverty. Evidence shows that the burden of vision impairment is high in poor people and vision impairment and poverty are linked to each other. However the empirical evidence to answer the questions—Does poverty perpetuate poor eye health?
How and why? Does poor eye health deepen poverty?—is sparse globally; especially from low and middle income countries (LMICs). This article therefore aims to examine published information and other secondary data sources that provide insight on the relationship between poverty and eye health, including eye disability caused from vision impairment and blindness. The article provides a conceptual understanding of poverty related attributes that contribute to eye disability from vision impairment and blindness, using evidence sourced from poverty and eye health research studies. The article interrogates general theories and beliefs that have been conceptualised in relation to the impact that the vicious cycle of poverty has on eye health and the contribution of poor eye health on an individual’s poverty status. The major outcomes of this article include: 1) identifying gaps in linking poverty and eye health, 2) establishing key issues that will assist in the development of a theoretical framework, and 3) preparing more appropriately for further investigation on the association between poverty and eye health.