A vision center (VC) is a significant eye care service model to strengthen primary eye care services. VCs have been set up at the block level, covering a population of 150,000-250,000 in rural areas in North India. Inadequate use by rural communities is a major challenge to sustainability of these VCs. This not only reduces the community’s vision improvement potential but also impacts self-sustainability and limits expansion of services in rural areas. The current literature reports a lack of awareness regarding eye diseases and the need for care, social stigmas, low priority being given to eye problems, prevailing gender discrimination, cost, and dependence on caregivers as factors preventing the use of primary eye care.
Our organization is planning an awareness-cum-engagement intervention—door-to-door basic eye checkup and visual acuity screening in VCs coverage areas—to connect with the community and improve the rational use of VCs.
In this randomized, parallel-group experimental study, we will select 2 VCs each for the intervention arm and the control arm from among poor, low-performing VCs (ie, walk-in of ≤10 patients/day) in our 2 operational regions (Vrindavan, Mathura District, and Mohammadi, Kheri District) of Uttar Pradesh. Intervention will include door-to-door screening and awareness generation in 8-12 villages surrounding the VCs, and control VCs will follow existing practices of awareness generation through community activities and health talks. Data will be collected from each VC for 4 months of intervention. Primary outcomes will be an increase in the number of walk-in patients, spectacle advise and uptake, referral and uptake for cataract and specialty surgery, and operational expenses. Secondary outcomes will be uptake of refraction correction and referrals for cataract and other eye conditions. Differences in the number of walk-in patients, referrals, uptake of services, and cost involved will be analyzed.
Background work involved planning of interventions and selection of VCs has been completed. Participant recruitment has begun and is currently in progress.
Through this study, we will analyze whether our door-to-door intervention is effective in increasing the number of visits to a VC and, thus, overall sustainability. We will also study the cost-effectiveness of this intervention to recommend its scalability.