Blindness above and below the Poverty Line: Reflections form Sofala, Mozambique
Although the correlation between visual impairment and poverty has been established, economic assessment is not a standard component of blindness surveys. The purpose of this study was to determine the prevalence of avoidable blindness and its association with poverty in Sofala province of Mozambique. As part of a Rapid Assessment of Avoidable Blindness, 94% of a random sample of 3600 people >50 years responded to questions regarding daily per capita expenditure. The WHO definition of blindness (presenting visual acuity <3/60) was used to determine the visual status of participants, and the World Bank’s threshold of living on <$1.25 International Dollar a day demarcated the poverty line. The prevalence of blindness was 3.2% [95% Confidence Interval (CI): 2.6, 3.8]. People living below the poverty line had significantly greater odds of being blind [Odds Ratio (OR): 2.6 (CI: 1.6 to 4.5)]. Age above 60 [OR: 7.0 [CI: 4.6 to 10.80] predicted blindness but the association with illiteracy, gender or rural residence was not significant. Blindness disproportionately affects people living below the poverty line. Development initiatives could augment the impact of blindness prevention programs. Measuring poverty should become a standard component of visual impairment surveys.
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