Effectiveness of an mHealth system on access to eye health services in Kenya: a cluster-randomised controlled trial

There is limited access to eye health services in many low-income and middle-income populations. We aimed to assess the effectiveness in increasing service utilisation of the Peek Community Eye Health (Peek CEH) system, a smartphone-based referral system comprising decision support algorithms (Peek Community Screening app), SMS reminders, and real-time reporting.

In this cluster-randomised controlled trial of eye health in Kenya, community unit clusters were defined as one health centre and its catchment population. Clusters were randomly allocated (1:1) to receive Peek CEH and referral (intervention group) or standard care via periodic health centre-based outreach clinics and onward referral (control group). Individuals in the intervention group were assessed at home by screeners and those referred were asked to present for triage assessment in a central location. They received regular SMS reminders. In both groups, community sensitisation was done followed by a triage clinic at the cluster health centre 4 weeks after sensitisation. During triage, individuals in both groups were assessed and treated and, if necessary, referred to a specific hospital. Individuals in the intervention group received further SMS reminders. The primary outcome was the mean attendance rate (the number of people per 10 000 population) at triage of those with confirmed eye conditions, as assessed at 4 weeks after sensitisation in the intention-to-treat population. We estimated the intervention effect using a Student’s t-test on cluster-level rates. This trial is registered with Pan African Clinical Trial Registry, number 201807329096632.

Between Nov 26, 2018, and June 7, 2019, of the 85 community units in Trans Nzoia County, Kenya, 49 were excluded. We randomly allocated 18 community units each to the intervention group (68 348 individuals) and the control group (60 243 individuals). 9387 individuals from the intervention group and 3070 from the control group attended triage assessment. The mean attendance rate at triage by individuals with eye problems was 1429 (92% CI 1228–1629) in the intervention group and 522 (418–625) in the control group (rate difference 906 per 10 000 [95% CI 689–1124; p<0·0001]).

The Peek CEH system increased primary care attendance by people with eye problems compared with standard approaches, indicating the potential of this mobile health package to increase service uptake and guide appropriate task sharing.

Utilization of eye health services and diabetic retinopathy: a cross-sectional study among persons living with diabetes visiting a tertiary eye care facility in Ghana

There have been a major advance made in screening, early diagnosis, and prompt treatment of Diabetic Retinopathy among Person living with diabetes (PLWD). However, screening services remain a challenge in Low-Middle-Income-Countries where access to eye care professionals is inadequate. This study assesses the utilization of Eye Health Service prevalence (UEHS) among PLWD and associated factors and further quantifies its association with Non-Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy (NPDR).

A cross-sectional study design with a random sample of 360 PLWD was conducted at Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, a National Referral Centre in Ghana from May to July 2019. UEHS and DR were the study outcomes. We adopted Poisson and Probit regression analysis to assess factors associated with UEHS over the past year. We employed pairwise and phi correlation (fourfold correlational analysis) to assess the relationship between UEHS and DR (ordinal and binary respectively). Ordered Logistic and Poisson regression were applied to assess the association between the UEHS and DR. Stata 16.1 was used to perform the analyses and a p-value ≤ 0.05 was deemed significant.

The prevalence of UEHS over the past year and DR was 21.7 %(95 %CI = 17.7–26.2) and 65.0 %(95 %CI = 59.9–69.8 respectively. The prevalence of severe NPDR with Clinically Significant Macular Edema (CSME) was 23.9 %(19.8–28.6). Type of diabetes, increasing age, educational level, mode of payment for healthcare services, marital status, years since diagnosis, and current blood glucose significantly influenced UEHS. There was a negative relationship between DR and UEHS (Pairwise and φ correlation were − 20 and − 15 respectively; p < 0.001). Non-UEHS among PLWD doubles the likelihood of experiencing severe NPDR with CSME compared with UEHS among PLWD [aOR(95 %CI) = 2.05(1.03–4.08)]. Meanwhile, the prevalence of DR among patients per non-UEHS was insignificantly higher [12 %; aPR(95 %CI) = 0.89–1.41)] compared with patients who utilized eye care health service.

Most of the PLWD did not utilize the eye health service even once in a year and that was highly influenced by type of diabetes and increasing age. Type 2 diabetes patients and middle age decreased the likelihood of UEHS. There was a negative relationship between DR and UEHS among PLWD and this doubled the likelihood of experiencing severe NPDR with CSME. Structured health education and screening interventions are key to improving UEHS.

Evaluation of postoperative refractive error correction after cataract surgery

Suboptimal cataract surgery outcomes remain a challenge in most developing countries. In Ghana, about 2 million people have been reported to be blind due to cataract with about 20% new cases being recorded yearly. The aim of this study was to evaluate postoperative correction of refractive errors after cataract surgery in a selected eye hospital in Ashanti Region, Ghana. This was a retrospective study where medical records of patients (aged 40–100) who reported to an eye hospital in Ghana from 2013–2018 were reviewed. Included in the study were patients aged ≥40 years and patients with complete records. Data on patient demographics, type of surgery, intra-ocular lens (PCIOL) power, availability of biometry, postoperative refraction outcomes, pre- and postoperative visual acuity were analyzed. Data of two hundred and thirteen eyes of 190 patients who met the inclusion criteria were analyzed. Descriptive analysis and Chi-square test were carried out to determine the mean, median, standard deviation and relevant associations. The mean ± SD age was 67.21±12.2 years (51.2% were females). Small Incision Cataract Surgery (99.5%) with 100% IOL implants was the main cataract surgery procedure in this study. Pre-operative biometry was performed for 38.9% of all patients on their first eye surgery and 41.5% for second eye surgeries. About 71% eyes in this study were blind (presenting VA<3/60) before surgery; 40.4% had post-operative VA <3/60. Pre-existing ocular comorbidities discovered post- surgery, attributed to suboptimal visual outcomes. More than half (55.3%) of patients did not undergo postoperative refraction due to loss to follow-up. Year of surgery (p = .017), follow up visits< 2months (p < .0001) and discovered comorbidity post-surgery (p = .035) were the factors significantly associated with postoperative refraction. Myopia and compound myopic astigmatism were the dominant refractive error outcomes. The timing of post-operative refraction had a significant effect on postoperative refraction done. These findings indicate a clinically meaningful significance between completion of postoperative care and postoperative refraction done. Consequently, with settings in most developing countries, where less biometry is done, it is appropriate that post-operative refractive services are encouraged and done earlier to enhance the patients’ expectations while increasing cataract surgery patronage.

An assessment of human resource distribution for public eye health services in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Background: The development of human resources for eye health (HReH), aimed at achieving a 25% reduction in visual impairment by the year 2020, was one of the VISION 2020 objectives.

Aim: To assess HReH in the public sector of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), and its effect on the accessibility of eye care in the province.

Setting: All public eye facilities in KZN.

Methods: A quantitative cross-sectional study using a close-ended questionnaire to assess distribution and outputs of HReH. At the end of the questionnaire, respondents gave general comments on their ability to provide services.

Results: Human resource rates were 0.89 for ophthalmologists, 2.44 for cataract surgeons, 4.8 for optometrists and 4.7 for ophthalmic nurses per 1 million population. Most health facilities had some HReH working in them, albeit none had dispensing opticians. Regression analysis showed that 67.1% of variation in cataract surgery was because of the number of surgeons available. Cataract surgical rates were low with a waiting period of up to 18 months. In addition to the refractive error regression analysis of 33.7%, spectacle supply was low, with a backlog of up to 9 months in some facilities.

Conclusion: Overall, HReH targets as per VISION 2020 and the National Prevention of Blindness have not been met in this region. Dispensing opticians are not employed in any of the province’s health districts. An increase in the eye health workforce is necessary to improve the eye health outcomes for people dependent on public eye facilities.

Time to recovery from cataract and its predictors among eye cataract patients treated with cataract surgery: A retrospective cohort study in Ethiopia

Cataracts is the major global causes of blindness and a vision-affecting disease of the eye. Cataract surgery is a curative and cost-effective intervention. The number of people who undergo cataract surgery has increased rapidly. Hence, this study was aimed to determine predictors and the time of recovery of cataract patients after cataract surgery by using Simi parametric models of survival analysis.

A retrospective cohort study was conducted from January/01/2015 and January/30/2019. STATA version14.0 statistical software was used for analysis. The Kaplan-Meier survival method and log-rank test curves were applied. Weibull regression was used and adjusted hazard ratio 95% CI with a value of p less than 0.05 was used to identify a significant association.

Two hundred twenty three cataract patients were recovered from cataract, 72.6% (95% CI 69.8%–75.9%). The overall median survival time was 23 weeks (IQR = 16 to 35) with (95% CI, 21%–25%). aged between 16 and 30year (AHR = 1.20 CI; 1.07–2.36), age 31 to 45 (AHR = 1.24 CI; 1.08–1.54), urban dwellers (AHR = 1.59; 95% CI, 1.18–2.14), medium visual acuity (AHR = 4.14 CI; 2.57–6.67), high visual acuity (AHR = 5.23 CI; 3.06–8.93), Secondary cataract (AHR = 2.59 CI; 1.01–3.02), traumatic cataract (AHR = 1.75 CI; 1.01–3.02), extra capsular cataract extraction surgery (AHR = 1.43 CI; 1.07–1.94),and diabetes mellitus (AHR = 0.75, CI; 0.41–0.96) were notably associated with time to recovery.

Time to recovery in the study area was slightly higher as compared with the global cut of time. Cataract patients with comorbidity of DM had lower recovery tim

Task-shifting eye care to ophthalmic community health officers (OCHO) in Sierra Leone: A qualitative study

Background :Preventing visual impairment due to avoidable causes has been a long-standing global priority. Of all blindness in Sierra Leone, 91.5% is estimated to be avoidable and 58.2% treatable, however, there are only 6 ophthalmologists for the whole country. Task-shifting has been suggested as a strategy to address this issue and a training intervention was developed to create a cadre of community-based staff known as Ophthalmic Community Health Officers (OCHOs). This qualitative study aimed to explore the experiences of OCHOs, their relationship with other eye health workers, and how they interact with the wider health system, in order to provide recommendations for the design and delivery of future task-shifting strategies.
Methods Between April and May 2018, we conducted semi-structured interviews with 42 participants including: OCHOs (n=13), traditional ophthalmic staff (n=17)
and other stakeholders from the districts (n=6), training institution staff (n=4) and MOH headquarters (n=2). We identified participants using purposive sampling. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed, and thematically analysed. We draw largely on in-depth interviews but complement the analysis with evidence from a
document review.
Results In Sierra Leone, the roll-out of the OCHO programme presented a mixed picture. OCHOs participating in the study expressed a strong commitment to their new role. However, policy changes proposed to clearly demarcate roles and responsibilities and institutionalise the cadre in the civil service were not implemented, resulting in the posting of some staff at an inappropriate level, dissatisfaction with the OCHO certification, and lack of opportunities for advancement and training. These challenges reflect structural weaknesses in the health system that undermine a cohesive implementation of eye health initiatives at the primary health care level in Sierra Leone.
Conclusions: Task-shifting has the potential to improve provision in under-resourced specialities such as eye health. However, the success of this approach will be contingent upon the development of a robust and supportive health policy environment

Andersen’s utilization model for cataract surgical rate and empirical evidence from economically-developing areas

Un-operated cataract is the leading cause of vision loss worldwide, responsible for 33% of visual impairment, and half of global blindness. The study aimed to build a fast evaluation method utilizing Andersen’s utilization framework and identify predictors of cataract surgical rate in sub-Saharan Africa and China.

The study was a cross-over ecological epidemiology study with a total of 19 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, and 31 provinces in China. Information was extracted from public data and published studies. Linear regression and structural equation modeling with Bootstrap were used to analyze predictors of CSR and their pathways to impact in sub-Saharan Africa and China separately.

Cataract surgical resources in sub-Saharan Africa were linearly correlated with CSR (β = 0.74, 95% CI: 0.09, 0.91), while GDP/P didn’t impact cataract surgical resources (β = 0.29, 95% CI: − 0.12, 0.75). In China, residents’ average ability to pay was confirmed as the mediator between GDP/P and CSR (p = 0.32, RMSEA = 0.07; βCSR-paying = 0.77, 95% CI: 0.25, 0.90; βpaying-GDP/P = 0.89, 95% CI: 0.82, 0.93).

In sub-Saharan Africa, CSR is determined by health care provision. Local economic development may not directly influence CSR. Therefore, international assistance aimed to providing free cataract surgery directly is crucial. In China, CSR is determined principally by health care demand (ability to pay). To increase CSR in underserved areas of China, ability to pay must be enhanced through social insurance, and reduced surgical fees.

Understanding the role of lady health workers in improving access to eye health services in rural Pakistan – findings from a qualitative study

In 1994, the Lady Health Workers (LHWs) Programme was established in Pakistan to increase access to essential primary care services and support health systems at the household and community levels. In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) province in northern Pakistan, eye care is among the many unmet needs that LHWs were trained to address, including screening and referral of people with eye conditions to health facilities. However, despite an increase in referrals by LHWs, compliance with referrals in KPK has been very low. We explored the role of LHWs in patient referral and the barriers to patient compliance with referrals.

Qualitative methodology was adopted. Between April and June 2019, we conducted eight focus group discussions and nine in-depth interviews with 73 participants including patients, LHWs and their supervisors, district managers and other stakeholders. Data were analysed thematically using NVivo software version 12.

LHWs have a broad understanding of basic health care and are responsible for a wide range of activities at the community level. LHWs felt that the training in primary eye care had equipped them with the skills to identify and refer eye patients. However, they reported that access to care was hampered when referred patients reached hospitals, where disorganised services and poor quality of care discouraged uptake of referrals. LHWs felt that this had a negative impact on their credibility and on the trust and respect they received from the community, which, coupled with low eye health awareness, influenced patients’ decisions about whether to comply with a referral. There was a lack of trust in the health care services provided by public sector hospitals. Poverty, deep-rooted gender inequities and transportation were the other reported main drivers of non-adherence to referrals.

Results from this study have shown that the training of LHWs in eye care was well received. However, training alone is not enough and does not result in improved access for patients to specialist services if other parts of the health system are not strengthened. Pathways for referrals should be agreed and explicitly communicated to both the health care providers and the patients.

Association between vision impairment and mortality: a systematic review and meta-analysis

The number of individuals with vision impairment worldwide is increasing because of an ageing population. We aimed to systematically identify studies describing the association between vision impairment and mortality, and to assess the association between vision impairment and all-cause mortality.

For this systematic review and meta-analysis, we searched MEDLINE (Ovid), Embase, and Global Health database on Feb 1, 2020, for studies published in English between database inception and Feb 1, 2020. We included prospective and retrospective cohort studies that measured the association between vision impairment and all-cause mortality in people aged 40 years or older who were followed up for 1 year or more. In a protocol amendment, we also included randomised controlled trials that met the same criteria as for cohort studies, in which the association between visual impairment and mortality was independent of the study intervention. Studies that did not report age-adjusted mortality data, or that focused only on populations with specific health conditions were excluded. Two reviewers independently assessed study eligibility, extracted the data, and assessed risk of bias. We graded the overall certainty of the evidence using the Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development and Evaluations framework. We did a random-effects meta-analysis to calculate pooled maximally adjusted hazard ratios (HRs) for all-cause mortality for individuals with a visual acuity of <6/12 versus those with ≥6/12; <6/18 versus those with ≥6/18; <6/60 versus those with ≥6/18; and <6/60 versus those with ≥6/60.

Our searches identified 3845 articles, of which 28 studies, representing 30 cohorts (446 088 participants) from 12 countries, were included in the systematic review. The meta-analysis included 17 studies, representing 18 cohorts (47 998 participants). There was variability in the methods used to assess and report vision impairment. Pooled HRs for all-cause mortality were 1·29 (95% CI 1·20–1·39) for visual acuity <6/12 versus ≥6/12, with low heterogeneity between studies (n=15; τ2=0·01, I2=31·46%); 1·43 (1·22–1·68) for visual acuity <6/18 versus ≥6/18, with low heterogeneity between studies (n=2; τ2=0·0, I2=0·0%); 1·89 (1·45–2·47) for visual acuity <6/60 versus ≥6/18 (n=1); and 1·02 (0·79–1·32) for visual acuity <6/60 versus ≥6/60 (n=2; τ2=0·02, I2=25·04%). Three studies received an assessment of low risk of bias across all six domains, and six studies had a high risk of bias in one or more domains. Effect sizes were greater for studies that used best-corrected visual acuity compared with those that used presenting visual acuity as the vision assessment method (p=0·0055), but the effect sizes did not vary in terms of risk of bias, study design, or participant-level factors (ie, age). We judged the evidence to be of moderate certainty.

The hazard for all-cause mortality was higher in people with vision impairment compared with those that had normal vision or mild vision impairment, and the magnitude of this effect increased with more severe vision impairment. These findings have implications for promoting healthy longevity and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

Wellcome Trust, Commonwealth Scholarship Commission, National Institutes of Health, Research to Prevent Blindness, the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, Moorfields Eye Charity, National Institute for Health Research, Moorfields Biomedical Research Centre, Sightsavers, the Fred Hollows Foundation, the Seva Foundation, the British Council for the Prevention of Blindness, and Christian Blind Mission.

The Lancet Global Health Commission on Global Eye Health: vision beyond 2020

Eye health and vision have widespread and profound implications for many aspects of life, health, sustainable development, and the economy. Yet nowadays, many people, families, and populations continue to suffer the consequences of poor access to high-quality, affordable eye care, leading to vision impairment and blindness.
In 2020, an estimated 596 million people had distance vision impairment worldwide, of whom 43 million were blind. Another 510 million people had uncorrected near vision impairment, simply because of not having reading spectacles. A large proportion of those affected (90%), live in low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs). However, encouragingly, more than 90% of people with vision impairment have a preventable or treatable cause with existing highly cost-effective interventions. Eye conditions affect all stages of life, with young children and older people being particularly affected. Crucially, women, rural populations, and ethnic minority groups are more likely to have vision impairment, and this pervasive inequality needs to be addressed. By 2050, population ageing, growth, and urbanisation might lead to an estimated 895 million people with distance vision impairment, of whom 61 million will be blind. Action to prioritise eye health is needed now.
This Commission defines eye health as maximised vision, ocular health, and functional ability, thereby contributing to overall health and wellbeing, social inclusion, and quality of life. Eye health is essential to achieve many of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Poor eye health and impaired vision have a negative effect on quality of life and restrict equitable access to and achievement in education and the workplace. Vision loss has substantial financial implications for affected individuals, families, and communities. Although high-quality data for global economic estimates are scarce, particularly for LMICs, conservative assessments based on the latest prevalence figures for 2020 suggest that annual global productivity loss from vision impairment is approximately US$410·7 billion purchasing power parity. Vision impairment reduces mobility, affects mental wellbeing, exacerbates risk of dementia, increases likelihood of falls and road traffic crashes, increases the need for social care, and ultimately leads to higher mortality rates.
By contrast, vision facilitates many daily life activities, enables better educational outcomes, and increases work productivity, reducing inequality. An increasing amount of evidence shows the potential for vision to advance the SDGs, by contributing towards poverty reduction, zero hunger, good health and wellbeing, quality education, gender equality, and decent work. Eye health is a global public priority, transforming lives in both poor and wealthy communities. Therefore, eye health needs to be reframed as a development as well as a health issue and given greater prominence within the global development and health agendas.
Vision loss has many causes that require promotional, preventive, treatment, and rehabilitative interventions. Cataract, uncorrected refractive error, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy are responsible for most global vision impairment. Research has identified treatments to reduce or eliminate blindness from all these conditions; the priority is to deliver treatments where they are most needed. Proven eye care interventions, such as cataract surgery and spectacle provision, are among the most cost-effective in all of health care. Greater financial investment is needed so that millions of people living with unnecessary vision impairment and blindness can benefit from these interventions.
Lessons from the past three decades give hope that this challenge can be met. Between 1990 and 2020, the age-standardised global prevalence of blindness fell by 28·5%. Since the 1990s, prevalence of major infectious causes of blindness—onchocerciasis and trachoma—have declined substantially. Hope remains that by 2030, the transmission of onchocerciasis will be interrupted, and trachoma will be eliminated as a public health problem in every country worldwide. However, the ageing population has led to a higher crude prevalence of age-related causes of blindness, and thus an increased total number of people with blindness in some regions.