Beyond COVID-19: How the manufacturing industry should prepare

Encouraging Workers Who Need Glasses to Buy & Wear Them


Building Holistic Health




10 factories, 2000 workers


Shahi Exports, VisionSpring, Queens University Belfast, USAID, Clearly







Every year, the Indian economy faces productivity losses to the tune of $37 billion, due to eye related problems. Uncorrected refractive errors and presbyopia affect 10.2% (55 million) and 33% (177 million) of the adult population in India respectively. These conditions can be treated with an inexpensive pair of eye- glasses. Yet, only 25% of those who need glasses actually use them. What stops people from buying and wearing eye-glasses?


What can we do to encourage the take-up and regularity of wearing glasses? Does wearing glasses have an effect on workplace outcomes like productivity and attrition?


The Eye Health (EH) study seeks to evaluate the effect of take-up and regular use of glasses by garment factory workers suffering from refractive errors (especially presbyopia) on their individual productivity and attrition, by way of a randomized controlled trial. The study design pays careful attention to the barriers to take-up and adherence of eye care practices bringing into perspective our model and methods;

  1. To address low uptake of glasses, we plan to offer different pricing schemes, for example, glasses sold at full price, at a subsidised price, and an option to buy glasses at full price after using them for a trial period.
  2. To address regularity of glasses wear, we plan to design and implement behavioral nudges which explicitly and implicitly reinforce its normalcy and importance in factories.

To this extent, we have conducted extensive qualitative scoping work spanning 13 factories and 100 workers in Bangalore, Karnataka. We designed activities to elicit interviewees' preferences for glasses, and the individual and social perceptions on which these preferences were based. Through monetary resource mapping, picture association games and by taking rankings of celebrities' images with and without glasses, we were able to make the interview experience more inclusive and interactive.


Our qualitative research brought forth many key insights, some of which are below:

  1. Apart from a strong monetary constraint, negative social perceptions of glasses form a complex barrier to their purchase and usage. Even when workers display symptoms of poor eyesight such as strong headaches, or are prescribed glasses by doctors, they either do not buy glasses or ration their use because of concerns about physical appearance or teasing.
  2. The age and gender of the worker impacts their attitude towards spectacles; men and older women were less affected by the opinion of their co-workers or family about their appearance than younger women.
  3. Moreover, there are informational constraints; workers are not well informed about the right price to pay for glasses, how to judge quality and which doctors to go to. So they wait until they visit their hometown to avail such services.
  4. Additionally, poor glasses design often causes prolonged physical discomfort which discourages habit formation.

Scale up

The objective of this study is to find the pricing and encouragement mechanisms for eyeglasses uptake and usage that can unlock labor productivity gains in the Indian garment manufacturing sector. Our qualitative study has shown that uncorrected refractive errors are common among the workforce, and hamper performance at work and in personal life through a negative impact on physical and emotional health. Using human-centred design thinking, we are processing our qualitative data to create relevant nudges that will help build a positive attitude towards good eye health. Currently, we are developing ideas around educational videos, motivational posters, inclusive public signs like toilet signs, multilingual eye care charts and factory announcement systems.

Write to us to find out more about the process we are using to design the nudges, the interventions we plan to test and good eye care practices in general. We would love to hear your nudge and intervention ideas and any research relevant to this project.

Image credits: Nayantara Parikh / Shalin Gor

Ann Arbor
701 Tappan Ave,
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109, United States
Bengaluru Corporate Office
Bellandur Gate, Sarjapur Main Road
Bengaluru, Karnataka 560102,
Delhi NCR Corporate Office
F-88, Okhla Industrial Area Phase-1
New Delhi, Delhi 110023,
University EAFIT
Medellin, Colombia