A trial of tea leaf pluckers in Assam has shown that the provision of glasses improved their productivity by 21.7 per cent, while for those aged over 50 the increase was 31.6 per cent, according to a study described as the largest ever recorded productivity increase from any health intervention, Hindustan Times reported.
If the improvement were replicated across India’s crop industry it would mean an extra $19 billion in growth from productivity gains alone, the study published in The Lancet Global Health on Tuesday says.
With 2.5 billion worldwide suffering from poor vision and no access to glasses, the research demonstrates the crucial role of glasses in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, a release from organisers of the study said. Nathan Congdon of Queens University Belfast was the study’s principal investigator.
The findings in the study called PROSPER (PROductivity Study of Presbyopia Elimination in Rural-dwellers]) is expected to intensify pressure on companies all over the world to ensure that their workers have access to glasses and other eyecare treatments.
Prosper is described as the first ever randomised controlled trial to explore the link between clear vision and productivity, representing a significant step forward in the understanding of the role of clear vision in accelerating the Sustainable Development Goals.
The trial, which involved 750 mainly female workers on plantations in Assam, showed that the daily weight of tea picked by those given glasses increased by over 5 kilos, which translated directly into increased income for the tea-pickers and their families.
James Chen, founder of campaign group Clearly said,“700 years after glasses were first invented we now have conclusive proof of the link between clear vision and productivity. Poor vision is the scandal the world forgot and affects a third of the world’s population”.
“Solving this issue will accelerate progress against the UN’s goals on health, quality education, decent work, gender equality and poverty elimination.”
A spokesperson from Amalgamated Plantations Private Ltd, owners of the tea garden in Assam where the trial took place, said: “There is a clear and certain case for improving vision and providing sight tests for our business’ employees”.
“It makes work more productive and more rewarding, and at the heart of this study there is a clear message for businesses like ours – good vision is vital to what we do. This is a turning point in awareness of the impact of clear vision on our tea garden’s wellbeing and productivity”.