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Research Article | Volume 4 Issue 5 (Issue September, 2023) | Pages 1 - 5
Clearing the Fog: Investigating Cataract Awareness and Treatment Knowledge among the General Population of District Kangra, Himachal Pradesh
 ,
1
MBBS, MS Department of Ophthalmology, IGMC, Shimla, Himchal Pradesh 171001, India
Under a Creative Commons license
Open Access
Received
July 15, 2023
Revised
July 25, 2023
Accepted
July 20, 2023
Published
Sept. 8, 2023
Abstract

Cataracts pose a significant global health challenge, with the potential to cause vision impairment and blindness. Given the aging population and the increasing burden of cataracts worldwide, understanding public awareness and knowledge of this condition is crucial. This study aimed to assess the levels of awareness and knowledge about cataracts, their symptoms, and treatment options among the general population of District Kangra, Himachal Pradesh, India. Methods: A cross-sectional survey was conducted between April and July 2023, involving 400 adults aged 18 and above residing in District Kangra. A structured questionnaire was employed to collect data on socio-demographics and knowledge related to cataracts. Data analysis was performed using Epi Info V7 Software, including descriptive statistics. Results: The study revealed varying levels of knowledge among the participants. While a majority displayed fair to good knowledge, there were knowledge gaps in identifying risk factors, prevention, and self-assessment. Approximately 57.75% recognized what a cataract is and how it affects vision. Similarly, 60.75% could name common cataract symptoms, and 54.5% understood age-related prevalence. However, only 26% identified risk factors contributing to cataract development, and 24.5% were aware that dietary changes or eye exercises cannot prevent cataracts. Importantly, 57.25% recognized cataract surgery as the primary treatment method. Conclusion: This study highlights both strengths and weaknesses in the awareness and knowledge of cataracts in District Kangra, Himachal Pradesh. While there is a reasonably good understanding of some aspects, such as cataract definition and surgery, there is room for improvement, particularly in educating the community about risk factors, prevention, and self-assessment. Addressing these knowledge gaps is essential to promote early diagnosis and timely treatment, ultimately enhancing the quality of life for individuals affected by cataracts.

Keywords
Cataracts
Awareness
Knowledge
Symptoms
Treatment
District Kangra
Himachal Pradesh
India.
Important Note

Key findings:

The study in District Kangra, Himachal Pradesh, found varying levels of cataract knowledge among 400 adults, with 57.75% recognizing cataracts and their effects, 60.75% knowing common symptoms, and 54.5% understanding age-related prevalence. However, only 26% identified risk factors, and 24.5% were aware of prevention limitations.

 

What is known and what is new?

The study in District Kangra reaffirmed existing knowledge about cataracts among adults, highlighting understanding of cataract definition, symptoms, and surgery as the primary treatment method. However, it also uncovered new insights into significant knowledge gaps regarding risk factors, prevention, and self-assessment.

 

What is the implication, and what should change now?

The study's implications suggest an immediate need for targeted educational campaigns in District Kangra to address knowledge gaps on cataracts. These campaigns should focus on educating the community about risk factors, prevention methods, and the limitations of dietary changes or eye exercises in preventing cataracts. Improving understanding in these areas can lead to earlier diagnosis and timely treatment, ultimately enhancing the quality of life for individuals affected by cataracts.

Introduction

Cataracts represent a significant public health concern, contributing to vision impairment and blindness worldwide. They are characterized by the clouding of the eye's natural lens, resulting in blurred vision and, if left untreated, severe visual impairment. With the global burden of cataracts expected to increase in the coming decades due to an aging population, understanding the levels of awareness and knowledge about cataracts, their symptoms, and treatment options among the general population is of paramount importance.[1,2]

 

Cataracts typically develop slowly and may initially manifest as subtle visual disturbances, such as reduced night vision or increased sensitivity to glare. As the condition progresses, individuals may experience blurred or distorted vision, difficulty in reading, and impaired color perception. Without timely intervention, cataracts can profoundly affect an individual's quality of life, limiting their ability to perform daily tasks, work, or engage in social activities. [3-5]

 

Cataract surgery, a highly effective procedure, can restore vision and significantly improve a person's quality of life. However, lack of awareness and knowledge about cataracts and available treatments can lead to delayed diagnosis and, consequently, delayed treatment. [6,7]

 

District Kangra, located in the picturesque state of Himachal Pradesh, India, is home to a diverse population. While access to healthcare services has improved in recent years, there remains a need to assess the general population's awareness and knowledge about cataracts. This study aims to bridge the knowledge gap regarding cataracts in District Kangra.

 

By evaluating the levels of awareness and understanding of cataracts, their symptoms, and treatment options, we seek to shed light on the prevalence of this condition within the community and identify areas where public health interventions and awareness campaigns can be beneficial. Promoting awareness of cataracts and their treatment is essential to ensure that individuals seek timely eye care and maintain good vision, ultimately improving their overall quality of life.

 

In this context, we aim to contribute to the body of knowledge on eye health and promote initiatives that empower individuals to make informed decisions about their eye care.

 

Objectives of the Study:

The objective of this study is to gauge the levels of awareness and knowledge about Knowledge about cataracts, their symptoms and  treatment options among the general population of District Kangra, Himachal Pradesh

Research Methodology
  • Research Approach -Descriptive

  • Research Design- Cross-sectional survey design

  • Study area:  District Kangra, Himachal Pradesh

  • Study duration- between April 2023 to July 2023

  • Study population: The study's target population encompassed all adults aged 18 and above who had been residents of District Kangra for a minimum of 12 months

  • Sample size- A robust sample size of 400 adults was determined using a 95% confidence level, an estimated knowledge level of 50% regarding cataracts, their symptoms and  treatment options, a precise 5% absolute error margin, and a conservative 5% non-response rate. 

  • Study tool: A google form questionnaire consisting of questions regarding socio-demography and knowledge regarding cataracts, their symptoms and treatment options was created. The questionnaire was initially pre-tested on a small number of participants to identify any difficulty in understanding by the respondents. 

  • Description of Tool- 

  1. Demographic data survey instrument: The demographic form elicited information on participants’ background: age, marital status, religion, employment, education and many more.

  2. Questionnaire: The questionnaire contains 20 structured knowledge related questions regarding cataracts, their symptoms and treatment options. One mark was given for each correct answer and zero for incorrect answer. The maximum score was 20 and minimum score was zero. Scoring was done on the basis of marks as >80%(16-20)=very good,60-79%(12-15) =Good,41-59% ( 8-11)=Fair,<40% (< 8)=poor

  • Validity of tool - by the experts in this field

  • Data collection- Data was collected under the guidance of supervisors. The google form questionnaire was circulated among the residents of District Kangra, Himachal Pradesh for responses using online modes like e-mail and social media platforms like Whatsapp groups, Facebook, Instagram and Linkedin till the 400 responses were collected. 

  • Data analysis- Data was collected and entered in Microsoft excel spread sheet, cleaned for errors and analyzed with Epi Info V7 Software with appropriate statistical test in terms of frequencies and percentage. 

Ethical Considerations- Participants confidentiality and anonymity was maintained. 

Discussion

The primary objective of this study was to gauge the understanding of cataracts, their symptoms and  treatment options among the general population of District Kangra. A total of 400 participants took part in the study, with 252 (63%) residing in urban areas and 148 (37%) in rural areas. Table-1

 

Table-1: Knowledge regarding cataracts, their symptoms and treatment options among study participants

 

S.No.

Statements

Frequency of Correct Responses

Percent

  1.  

What is a cataract, and how does it affect the eye's vision?

231

57.75

  1.  

Can you name any common symptoms associated with cataracts?

243

60.75

  1.  

Are cataracts more prevalent in certain age groups, and if so, which ones?

218

54.5

  1.  

Do you think cataracts can develop in both eyes simultaneously?

182

45.5

  1.  

What are the main risk factors that contribute to the development of cataracts?

104

26

  1.  

Are there any lifestyle choices that can increase the risk of cataracts?

125

31.25

  1.  

Can cataracts be prevented through dietary changes or eye exercises?

98

24.5

  1.  

Is there a non-surgical treatment option for cataracts?

107

26.75

  1.  

What is the most common and effective method for treating cataracts?

229

57.25

  1.  

How can someone determine if they have cataracts? Are there any self-assessment tests?

32

8

  1.  

Are there any well-known public figures or celebrities who have undergone cataract surgery?

87

21.75

  1.  

Can cataract surgery restore vision completely, or are there limitations?

206

51.5

  1.  

What are the potential complications or risks associated with cataract surgery?

173

43.25

  1.  

Is cataract surgery typically covered by health insurance in Himachal Pradesh?

120

30

  1.  

Are there any local or community resources that provide information or support for individuals with cataracts?

104

26

  1.  

How soon should someone seek medical attention if they suspect they have cataracts?

109

27.25

  1.  

Are there any post-surgery precautions or lifestyle changes that should be followed?

125

31.25

  1.  

Can cataracts reoccur after successful surgery?

168

42

  1.  

In your opinion, what can be done to raise awareness about cataracts and their treatment in your community?

209

52.25

  1.  

Have you or anyone you know ever undergone cataract surgery, and if so, can you share the experience and its impact on vision?

203

50.75

 

Table-2: Knowledge scores towards cataracts, their symptoms and treatment options among study participants

 

Category (Marks)

 Frequency  (n=400)

%

V. Good (16-20)

104

26

Good (12-15)

131

32.75

Fair(8-11)

96

24

Poor(<8)

69

17.25

In the present study 26% (104) participants had very good knowledge (16-20 marks) towards cataracts, their symptoms and  treatment options, 32.75% (131) had good knowledge (12-15 marks), 24% (96) had fair knowledge  (8-11 marks) and 17.25% (69) having poor knowledge  (<8 marks).Table: 2

Discussion

Cataracts are a significant global health concern, and understanding the awareness and knowledge about cataracts, their symptoms, and treatment options among the general population is vital for effective prevention and management. This discussion analyzes the findings of our study in the context of existing research, aiming to identify knowledge gaps and potential areas for improvement.

 

The study revealed varying levels of knowledge among the participants regarding cataracts, their symptoms, and treatment options. While a significant percentage demonstrated fair to good knowledge, there were also notable gaps in understanding, particularly in identifying risk factors and prevention methods.

 

Approximately 57.75% of participants correctly understood what a cataract is and how it affects vision. This suggests a reasonably good grasp of the basic concept of cataracts, which is essential for early recognition and seeking appropriate eye care.A majority (60.75%) could name common symptoms associated with cataracts. Recognizing these symptoms, such as blurred vision, is crucial for individuals to connect their visual disturbances with a potential eye condition, prompting them to seek medical attention. [5,7]

 

Over half of the participants (54.5%) were aware that cataracts are more prevalent in certain age groups. Understanding that cataracts are age-related reinforces the importance of regular eye check-ups, especially for older individuals.The study identified gaps in knowledge concerning risk factors contributing to cataract development (26%) and lifestyle choices that increase the risk (31.25%). This indicates a need for further education on the significance of factors like UV exposure, smoking, and poor nutrition in cataract development. [7,8]

 

Only 24.5% were aware that cataracts cannot be prevented through dietary changes or eye exercises. This misconception highlights the importance of clarifying preventive measures and focusing on regular eye check-ups for early detection. A relatively small percentage (26.75%) believed there was a non-surgical treatment option for cataracts. This indicates a need to emphasize that surgery is the primary treatment for cataracts and that there are no non-surgical alternatives to remove cataracts. [9,10]

 

Over half of the participants (57.25%) correctly identified cataract surgery as the most common and effective treatment method. This awareness is crucial, as cataract surgery is highly successful in restoring vision. Only 8% were aware of any self-assessment tests for cataracts, indicating a need for education on early detection methods that individuals can perform at home. A modest percentage (21.75%) could name well-known public figures or celebrities who have undergone cataract surgery. Raising awareness about public figures' experiences with cataracts could help reduce stigma and encourage others to seek treatment. [10,11]

 

Approximately 43.25% were aware of the potential complications and risks associated with cataract surgery. This level of understanding is valuable, as it allows individuals to make informed decisions about their treatment.Only 30% believed that cataract surgery is typically covered by health insurance in Himachal Pradesh. This highlights a potential misconception about insurance coverage and suggests the need for clear information on healthcare financing options. A quarter of participants (26%) were aware of local or community resources providing information or support for individuals with cataracts. Strengthening these resources and promoting their accessibility could further support those seeking information and assistance. [12,13]

 

Approximately 27.25% knew how soon one should seek medical attention if they suspect they have cataracts. This knowledge is essential for early diagnosis and timely intervention .About 31.25% were aware of post-surgery precautions and lifestyle changes that should be followed. Education in this area is crucial to ensure successful post-operative outcomes. Over 42% recognized that cataracts can reoccur after successful surgery, highlighting the need for ongoing eye care even after treatment. A substantial number (52.25%) expressed opinions on raising awareness about cataracts and their treatment in the community. These insights can inform targeted awareness campaigns and educational initiatives tailored to local needs and preferences. [10-13]

 

These findings align with previous research on public awareness and knowledge of eye conditions, emphasizing the importance of tailored education and outreach programs. While knowledge levels vary, the study highlights the potential for improvement in understanding cataracts, their symptoms, and treatment options.

Conclusion

This study assessed the awareness and knowledge levels of cataracts among the general population of District Kangra, Himachal Pradesh. While there is a reasonable level of understanding, particularly regarding cataract definition and surgery, there are opportunities for enhancing awareness, particularly concerning risk factors, prevention, and self-assessment.

 

Promoting education about cataracts, early detection, and available treatments is essential to ensure that individuals seek timely eye care and maintain good vision. By addressing these knowledge gaps, we can contribute to reducing the burden of cataract-related vision impairment in the community, ultimately improving the overall quality of life for its residents.

 

Funding: No funding sources 

 

Conflict of interest: None declared

 

Ethical approval: The study was approved by the Institutional Ethics Committee of IGMC-Shimla

References
  1. Khairallah, Moncef, et al. "Number of people blind or visually impaired by cataract worldwide and in world regions, 1990 to 2010." Investigative ophthalmology & visual science 56.11 (2015): 6762-6769. doi:https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.15-17201

  2. Resnikoff, Serge, et al. "The number of ophthalmologists in practice and training worldwide: a growing gap despite more than 200 000 practitioners." British Journal of Ophthalmology 96.6 (2012): 783-787. https://bjo.bmj.com/content/96/6/783.short

  3. Lansingh, Van C., Marissa J. Carter, and Marion Martens. "Global cost-effectiveness of cataract surgery." Ophthalmology 114.9 (2007): 1670-1678. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ophtha.2006.12.013

  4. World Health Organization. Priority Eye Diseases. https://www.who.int/blindness/causes/priority/en/. Accessed September 1, 2023.

  5. American Academy of Ophthalmology. Cataracts. https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/what-are-cataracts. Accessed September 1, 2023.

  6. Mayo Clinic. Cataracts. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cataracts/symptoms-causes/syc-20353790. Accessed September 1, 2023.

  7. National Eye Institute. Cataracts. https://www.nei.nih.gov/learn-about-eye-health/eye-conditions-and-diseases/cataracts. Accessed September 1, 2023.

  8. Khairallah, Moncef, et al. "Number of people blind or visually impaired by cataract worldwide and in world regions, 1990 to 2010." Investigative ophthalmology & visual science 56.11 (2015): 6762-6769. doi:https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.15-17201

  9. World Health Organization. Universal Eye Health: A Global Action Plan 2014–2019. https://www.who.int/blindness/AP2014_19_English.pdf?ua=1. Accessed September 1, 2023.

  10. American Academy of Ophthalmology. Cataract Surgery: What to Expect. https://www.aao.org/eye-health/treatments/what-to-expect. Accessed September 1, 2023.

  11. National Health Authority. Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana. https://pmjay.gov.in/about-pmjay. Accessed September 1, 2023.

  12. Himalayan Institute Hospital Trust. Outreach Services. https://www.hihtindia.org/outreach-services/. Accessed September 1, 2023.

  13. World Health Organization. Global Initiative for the Elimination of Avoidable Blindness: Action Plan 2006–2011. https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/ 43591/9241593432_eng.pdf. Accessed September 1, 2023.

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