Barriers to uptake of cataract surgery among elderly patients in rural China: a cross-sectional study

Xiaochen Ma, Jie Hao, Catherine Jan, Yue Wan, Yuan Xie, Chengfang Liu, Yaojiang Shi, Ailian Hu, Kai Cao, Nathan Congdon, Scott Rozelle, Zhe Dong, Ningli Wang

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To investigate factors that differentiate elderly adults in rural China who accept free vision screening and cataract surgery from those who could benefit from vision care but refuse it when offered.

We conducted a population-based, cross-sectional study between October and December 2016. Logistic regression models were used to examine the predictors of accepting free vision screening and cataract surgery.

Rural communities in Handan, China.

Adults aged 50 years or older, with presenting visual acuity ≤6/18 in the better seeing eye, suspected by examining ophthalmologist to be due to cataract.

Among 613 persons with cataract identified on a population basis, 596 (97.2%) completed the household survey (mean (SD) age, 71.5 (10.0) years; 79.8% female). A total of 214 persons (35.9%) refused participation, while 382 (64.1%) took part in the vision screening. A total of 193 (50.5%) participants were found eligible for surgery, while 189 (49.5%) were not. Among 99 randomly selected participants who were offered immediate free surgery, surgery was accepted by 77 participants (77.8%) and refused by 22 (22.2%). In the multivariate model, being engaged in income-generating activities (p<0.01), self-reported better physical capacity (p<0.001) and having had a recent physical examination (p=0.01) were significantly associated with acceptance of vision screening. The only variable significantly associated with acceptance of surgery was presenting visual acuity, with better vision inversely associated with acceptance of surgery (p<0.05) models.

Our results suggest that refusal of basic eye examinations may be at least as important a determinant of low surgical rates in rural China as lack of acceptance of surgery itself.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere076116
Number of pages27
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 03 Jan 2024


  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Visual Acuity
  • Aged
  • Cataract Extraction
  • public health
  • epidemiologic studies
  • Rural Population
  • Male
  • Cataract - diagnosis - epidemiology
  • China - epidemiology
  • Female
  • cataract and refractive surgery
  • Humans


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