Friday, 24 May, 2024


Having the right glasses improve income, Bangladesh study says

News Desk |
Update: 2024-04-05 15:05:16
Having the right glasses improve income, Bangladesh study says A farmer in Bangladesh. The study found glasses made daily tasks such as reading a phone screen or cooking easier. Photograph: Sean Sprague/Alamy

Owning a pair of reading glasses might help people increase their earnings by a third, according to new research.

The study, conducted in Bangladesh, is the first to examine the impact of having a decent pair of spectacles, and researchers found monthly median earnings among one group of people increased from $35.30 to $47.10 within eight months, a rise of 33.4%.

The paper, published this week by Queen’s University Belfast, social enterprise VisionSpring and the NGO Brac, involved 824 people over the age of 35, when eyesight begins to decline.

Loss of closeup vision – known as presbyopia – is estimated to cost the global economy more than $25bn (£19bn) annually in lost productivity, but in low- and middle-income countries, the number of people who have glasses to correct the problem can be as low as 10%.

The quality of life of those who took part in the study improved, as glasses made daily tasks such as reading a mobile phone and cooking easier.

Prof Nathan Congdon, Ulverscroft chair of global eye health at Queen’s and one of the authors of the study, said: “The findings demonstrate the power of reading glasses in reducing poverty. For the cost of only a few dollars a pair, reading glasses have a significant and sustained impact on an individual’s earnings and help others get back to work.”

Ella Gudwin, a report co-author and chief executive of VisionSpring, said: “Glasses to date have been an underdeployed tool … We hope this evidence reveals this simple solution is uniquely powerful and should be deployed more.”

Sarah Nakalyowa, 57, from Matugga in southern Uganda, is a basket weaver. When she was younger she made two and a half baskets a day and earned 400,000-500,000 Ugandan shillings (£82-£103) a month. As her eyesight declined from around the age of 40, her productivity dropped.

“I use a needle and could not focus well while doing my work. The basket would come out untidy,” she said. “When my eyesight got worse, it took four days to do what used to take me a day. My income dropped to 100,000-150,000 Ugandan shillings a month.”

Spectacles have made a “huge difference”. “My work has been made easier. Before, I missed points with the needle. Now it’s OK. I couldn’t read the Bible, or newspapers. Now I can read very clearly.”

Her income is almost back to its previous level, and she has also started a side business growing mushrooms, which she says would not have been possible without her glasses.

Source: The Guardian 

BDST: 1505 HRS, APR 5, 2024

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