The research found that women and those from a lower socio-economic background were often disproportionally affected by issues involved with eye problems. In one case, people with additional, non-visual disabilities were 10 times as likely to be blind or have severe visual impairment than those without.
The study recorded disability and socio-economic status in five surveys of visual impairment across three countries over four years.
Taking place across India, Pakistan and Tanzania, the research found that in all places where disability was recorded, people with additional, non-visual disabilities were more likely to be blind or severely visually impaired.
Emma Jolley, lead author of the report from Sightsavers, said: “These results add extra layers to our understanding of who has visual impairments, which is important if we’re going to be efficient and effective in supporting them.
“More research needs to be done… but if the results are replicated across larger studies, this insight could be crucial in terms of being able to identify and support people.”
Lower income was also associated with higher chances of visual impairment in one study site in India, and in two study sites in India this affected the level of cataract surgical coverage.
The study was published in the Journal of Ophthalmic Epidemiology. Find out more about our research by visiting Sightsavers research centre.
Our paper presents results from five surveys where prevalence of visual impairment and cataract surgery coverage were examined for differences by sex, economic status and disability.Read the study
Sightsavers has partnered with the Fred Hollows Foundation and PlenOptika to pilot a new vision care strategy that aims to revolutionise eye care worldwide.
Sightsavers began working in Kenya in 1952, when blindness affected up to 7% of rural Kenyans.
Sightsavers has been awarded $16.9 million to continue and expand its deworming work, after a funding recommendation from US charity evaluator GiveWell.