Glasses improve income and vision, study shows

Overall, the health needs of women in Bangladesh take a backseat to those of men. “In our male-dominated society, when a man has a problem, he requires immediate attention, but women can wait,” she said.

But the effects of declining vision can be especially pronounced for women, who are often responsible for earning extra income for their families on top of childcare and household chores, Ms. Mahjabeen said. “When it takes longer to sew and clean, or you can't get all the kernels out of the rice, domestic violence occurs in some families,” she said.

VisionSpring distributes more than two million pairs of glasses per year across South Asia and Africa, up from 300,000 in 2018.

The PLOS One study builds on previous research involving tea pickers in India who found a significant increase in productivity among study participants who received reading glasses. The article, a randomized trial published in The Lancet Global Health in 2018, documented a 22% increase in productivity among workers who were given the glasses. For those over 50, productivity increased by almost 32%.

Agad Ali, 57, a Bangladeshi tailor in the city of Manikganj, was among those who received a pair of glasses as part of the study published this week. In an emailed interview conducted by a community health worker, he described how worsening presbyopia had made it increasingly difficult to thread needles and sew clothes, increasing the time it took to complete each tailoring job. As time went on, he said, some clients went elsewhere and his income began to decline. “He made me feel very helpless,” he said.

Since receiving the glasses, he said, his income has doubled. “These glasses are like my lifeline,” she told the community health worker. “I couldn't do my job without them.”

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