How is eye care seeking affected by intersectional experiences? A study of ageing women in the Indian Sundarbans
Old age often marks a period of changed socioeconomic position and physical infirmity. Older adults make up a large and complex population sub-group where several identities and characteristics coalesce to create intersectional experiences. Visual impairment can be prevented or cured to a large extent. Globally, women’s access to eye care is lower than that for men. We use the intersectionality lens to examine the experiences of women above the age of 50 years in an impoverished region of India. In-depth interviews were carried out with 12 women in the Indian Sundarbans. They have been categorised into three age groups: young-old, middle-old, and old-old. All of them had either low vision or high visual impairment. Our study shows that women’s vulnerability gets compounded gradually. Gendered vulnerabilities such as women’s restricted mobility and economic dependency continue with increasing age and visual impairment. Physical dependency worsens with time and increasing visual impairment. Women’s gendered roles undergo a change. Their living arrangements may change. Such dynamism has a bearing on women’s eye care-seeking behaviour. Our study calls for the recognition of intersectional gendered experiences during the provision of eye care services so that the needs of older women are met in an appropriate manner as they age.
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