There is a considerable body of evidence on the prevalence of blindness and visual impairment among adults in developing countries including India. Most of these studies have documented cataract to be the single largest cause of blindness and visual impairment.
The Andhra Pradesh Eye Disease (APED) Study in India was first initiated in 1996. It is one of the most rigorous population based studies in low income settings. A number of publications have documented the findings from this study, in relation to blindness, visual impairment and refractive errors.
Over the period June 2009-May 2010,a study was undertaken by L.V.Prasad Eye Institute and the International Centre for Eye Health to trace the original subjects examined in the APED Study in the 3 rural areas where APEDs was originally undertaken. One of the objectives of the tracing exercise was also to obtain information on mortality and it was observed that there was a mortality differential among those who were blind compared to those who were not blind at baseline, among those aged 40+. The mortality among the blind was 2.3 times higher than among those who were not blind at baseline. This is a significant observation as it helps to plan eye care services for the future.
After obtaining informed consent, all eligible subjects will be offered a complete eye examination using the same protocol as in the original survey conducted a decade ago. Subjects will be transported to the examination site which will be located within a short travelling distance from the respective villages where the subjects are located.
Quality assurance will be ensured by periodic monitoring of the survey teams by a faculty/research fellow from L.V.Prasad Eye Institute and the ICEH, London.
ICEH and LSHTM have set up a Centre for Disability, Inclusive Development and Research with the Public Health Foundation of India. This Centre is located at Hyderabad and will be closely involved in the project. Data cleaning and analysis will be conducted at Centre for Disability/. ICEH, who will also provide technical assistance, training of the survey teams and monitoring.