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.

Visual impairment and blindness in a population-based study of Mashhad, Iran.

Purpose
To determine the prevalence of visual impairment and blindness and related factors in the 1- to 90-year-old urban population of Mashhad.

Methods
In this cross-sectional study of 1- to 90-year-old residents of Mashhad, in northeastern Iran, sampling was done through random stratified cluster sampling (120 clusters). After selecting the samples and their participation in the study, all subjects had vision testing including measurement of visual acuity and refraction, as well as examinations with the slit-lamp and ophthalmoscopy. Visual impairment (primary outcomes) was defined as a visual acuity worse than of 0.5 logMAR (20/60) in the better eye.

Results
Of the 4453 selected persons, 3132 (70.4%) participated in the study. The prevalence of visual impairment based on presenting vision and best-corrected vision was 3.95% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 3.13–4.77) and 2.23 (95% CI: 1.54–2.91), respectively. The prevalence of presenting visual impairment increased from 1.59% in children under 5 years of age to 43.59% in people older than 65 years of age; these figures were respectively 1.59% and 42.31% based on corrected visual acuity. In the logistic regression model, older age (OR = 1.06, 95% CI: 1.04–1.07, P < 0.001), higher education (OR = 0.16, 95% CI: 0.06–0.38, P < 0.001), and low income (OR = 1.36, 95% CI: 1.21–1.72, P < 0.001) correlated with impaired sight. Based on presenting vision and best-corrected vision, the prevalence of blindness was 0.86% (95% CI: 0.51–1.22) and 0.32% (95% CI: 0.1–0.55). The most common causes of visual impairment were uncorrected refractive error (41.8%) and cataract (20%).

Conclusions
According to our findings, the prevalence of visual impairment was intermediate in comparison with other studies. The prevalence of visual impairment in our study was similar to the global average; however, it was markedly high at older ages. Nonetheless, refractive errors and cataracts remain as the main causes of impaired vision and blindness in this population, while these two conditions are easily treatable with correction or surgery.