Bangladesh study finds spectacle provision can aid return to work

Those with presbyopia in near-vision intensive occupations received a 33% boost in income following the free provision of spectacles

brown empty wallet
Pixabay/Andrew Khoroshavin

A new study published in PLOS One has highlighted an association between the provision of spectacles to those with presbyopia in near-vision intensive occupations and a boost in income.

The Bangladesh study involved the recruitment 824 people across 15 districts who work, or previously had worked, in occupations that involve completing tasks at close range – such as tailors, artisans, mechanics, carpenters, farmers and shopkeepers.

All the study participants were between the ages of 35 and 65, had presbyopia and had never owned a pair of spectacles.

As part of a randomised intervention, study participants either received a free pair of reading glasses immediately or a free pair of reading glasses in eight-months’ time.

At the start of the study, both the intervention and control groups had a self-reported average monthly income of US$35 (£28).

At the end of the trial, the average monthly income for the group assigned glasses was US$47.10 (£38) compared with US$35 (£28) among the control group.

The self-reported use of the reading glasses among those assigned spectacles was 88% after eight months.

“Provision of reading glasses increases income in near vision-intensive occupations, and may facilitate return to work for those currently unemployed,” the authors concluded.