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Muluken Melese, Wondu Alemayehu, Eva Friedlander, Paul Courtright

Indirect costs associated with accessing eye care services as a barrier to service use in Ethiopia

publication date
2004 Mar
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Background: The prevalence of blindness and visual impairment are high in Ethiopia and use of services is limited. Determining the barriers to use of eye care services is critical for planning strategies to prevent blindness.

Methods: A population-based survey of the magnitude and causes of blindness and visual impairment in adults 40 years and older in the Gurage Zone, central Ethiopia was conducted. Among those individuals who had binocular or monocular vision <6/18, an interview to assess use of eye care services and reasons for a failure to use such services was undertaken.


Results: Of 850 adults with visual impairment or blindness, 802 were interviewed. Cataract surgery accounted for the primary service currently needed by the blind, followed by trichiasis surgery; service needs were higher for women than for men. Use of services (27.8% of sample) was associated with being male, binocular vision loss, and blindness. The primary reason for a failure to use eye care services were indirect costs (overall, reported by 40% of respondents) associated with accessing the service. There were significant differences between men and women in the reasons for not using the services and between cataract and trichiasis cases but not when comparing binocular vs. monocular conditions, or patients with visual impairment vs. blindness.

Conclusion: The majority of the causes of visual impairment and blindness are treatable (cataract) or preventable (trachomatous trichiasis). The main barrier for seeking service is related to the indirect medical costs of the service. This suggests that efforts are needed to create mechanisms that 'bridge' communities and eye care facilities. A holistic approach that deals both with the organization of services and the sociocultural factors in communities that affect use is needed. The organization of trichiasis surgery at peripheral health centres and screening programmes which identify and facilitate transport to hospital for cataract patients is one approach. The indirect burden of accessing eye care on the family may be lessened by encouraging patients to have surgery earlier (before they require assistance to reach the hospital), and by improving the efficiency of existing services. Promotion of services must be gender-sensitive, ensuring that specific characteristics of the sociocultural roles of women be considered in order to improve uptake among women. Training and placement of cataract surgeons in rural hospitals would also enhance provision of eye care for the rural population.


Vision therapy is well worth the response, time and effort. Our Son had a hard time focusing and writing neatly. After vision therapy Seth could complete a task in half the time if previously took. His abilities to focus improved greatly and so did his handwriting.

Also, he was better at listening. As a parent, we wanted learning to be fun for our Son, and vision therapy made this possible.

Amanda T.

Vision Therapy is well worth the expense, time and effort. Our son had a hard time focusing handwriting neatly. After vision therapy Seth could complete a task in half the time it previously took his abilities to focus and improved greatly and so did his handwriting.

Also, he was better at listening. As a parent you wanted learning to be fun for our son and vision therapy made this possible.

Alexa H.

Vision Therapy has given or son the tools he needs to be able to scan and read the written word more effectively and efficiently.

He love working with John and these working sessions give him the motivation to gladly work on his homework assignments.

It amazed us to see the difference in the tracking of his eyes and along a line of it's from the beginning to the end of the treatment.

Dr. McBryar , Kristen and John  are all marvelous and we would recommend them to anyone I only wish that we would have found them sooner!

Charlotte M.

Prior to coming to the institute for vision development my son complained of daily headaches. Therapy has eliminated his headaches completely. I love knowing my son is able to learn pain-free for the rest of his life because of the work that has been done over just a few weeks in this office. He he absolutely loved coming that didn't even feel like going to a doctor or therapy. We are grateful for the relief he was able to find by coming here.

Thank you!

Olivia C.

Seems much less frustrated with life

Reads non-stop and fast

Spelling abilities have been hugely improved

Seems much more confident

Thank You!!!

Kelly O.

When we first came to the practice, my son did not have huge issues, but lots of small ones- trouble with reading, sports (hitting the baseball consistently), coordination, etc- that were not easily detectable,but when put together presented issues. The staff here were all very professional and loving towards him. While I was concerned in the reading, my son was concerned with the athletic side. Seeing improvement night off the bat gave him confidence that i have nor seen in him and made him want to not only Come to therapy, but also made him want to work hard. He has surpassed his grade level and above in reading and hit his first home run this year! Thank you!!!

Alice M.
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