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John Welling, Emily Newick, Geoffrey Tabin; The economic impact of cataract surgery in a remote Ghanaian village three years after surgical intervention. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2013;54(15):4396.
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To study the economic impact of cataract surgery three years after cataract surgical intervention in Bonsaaso, Ghana.
In 2010, nineteen patients who had undergone cataract surgery in 2007 as part of a Himalayan Cataract Project - Millennium Villages Project intervention in Bonsaaso, Ghana were interviewed regarding how cataract surgery had impacted their economic well-being. The survey was designed to compare pre- versus post-operative economic well-being, utilizing six indicators relevant to this rural African setting. The survey was administered in the patients’ native language by an interpreter from the United Nations Millennium Villages Project, after obtaining informed consent.
One hundred percent (19/19) of patients reported that their eyesight prior to cataract surgery interfered with their ability to provide income for themselves and their families; of those who reported moderate to severe impairment, 94% (15/16) reported improved ability to provide income, with 69% (11/16) improving by at least two steps. Seventy-eight percent (15/19) of patients said their vision prior to cataract surgery interfered with their ability to participate in all forms of work. Of those with moderate to severe impairment, 82% (9/11) reported that their ability to work was improved, with 55% (6/11) improving by at least 2 steps. Most patients who reported relying on caregivers for help with their activities of daily living (ADLs) reported that post-operatively they were able to perform their ADLs independently. Overall, the average number of caregiver hours decreased by 62%. On average, the number of hours worked by patients increased by 121% after cataract surgery. Two patients who had been completely unable to work due to bilateral cataracts reported that post-operatively they were farming more than 40 hours per week.
Cataract surgery appeared to positively impact economic well-being for nearly all patients in this rural African setting. Cataract surgery not only improved most patients’ ability to work more hours and provide more income for themselves and their families, it also decreased their dependence on caregivers who may have been taken out of the workforce to assist patients with ADLs. Prospective, controlled studies with larger samples are needed to better establish the economic impact of sight-restoring cataract surgery in the developing world.
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