Rapid Assessment of Avoidable Blindness (RAAB)

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Rapid Assessment of Avoidable Blindness (RAAB)

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What is RAAB?

The Rapid Assessment of avoidable blindness (RAAB) is a rapid survey methodology developed at ICEH, and used to complete over 300 surveys of visual impairment and blindness in over 80 countries to date.

RAAB is rapid because it uses simplified examination techniques and, because it only includes examination of people 50+, requires a small sample size.

RAAB incorporates a standardised training programme supported by certified RAAB Trainers, mobile data entry with in-built logic, and automated analysis and report generation. RAAB data are collated and displayed on the RAAB website

This page provides an overview of the purpose of RAAB, the current RAAB7 development project, what RAAB is not, and RAAB trainers that you can contact for support. In addition:

What is RAAB for?

The main aims of RAAB are:

  • to estimate the prevalence and causes of avoidable blindness and visual impairment in people aged 50 and above
  • to assess cataract surgical coverage
  • to identify the main barriers to the uptake of cataract surgery
  • to measure outcome after cataract surgery.

Using sound epidemiological methods, these data are used to design and monitor eye care programmes in the surveyed area.

RAAB was originally designed for use at the district level, but is equally a valuable tool for reporting on national level estimates.

RAAB7: the next generation of RAAB

RAAB has been developed iteratively over the years. The 7th generation of RAAB – RAAB7, launched December 2021, is a joint project between ICEH and Peek Vision. RAAB7 fully digitises the RAAB workflow, delivered on the Peek Vision platform.  It further enhances RAAB’s ability to support eye health planning and includes several new features that deliver higher integrity data and live tracking.

In addition, RAAB7 contains new modules developed to maximise the utility of RAAB in eye health planning. An optional disability module (using the Washington Group Short Set) has already been developed, and further new modules and inputs related to uncorrected refractive error, glaucoma and near vision are being explored.

What RAAB is not

  • RAAB is not a case-finding exercise: it will not provide a list of names and addresses of all people who are blind due to (for example) cataract in an area.
  • RAAB is not a detailed vision survey: it provides a reasonably accurate estimate of the prevalence of blindness, and the proportion that is avoidable, in a geographic area. RAAB is not designed to give accurate estimates of the prevalence of specific causes of blindness and does not measure posterior segment disease in detail.
  • RAAB focuses on people aged 50 years and above and so it does not give an estimate of childhood blindness, which is better measured through other approaches such as the Key Informant Method.
  • RAAB6 does not provide data on human and financial resources, which are also imperative for eye health planning. However, a planning module and situational analysis support is being developed within the RAAB7 project.

Who should carry out a RAAB survey?

The entire process of carrying out a RAAB survey, from planning to the collection of field data, data analysis and report writing, can be conducted by local staff. 3-5 teams with transport can cover the usual required sample size in a minimum period of 5-6 weeks, including 1 week of training. The collection of data can be done by local ophthalmologists, or residents in ophthalmology, together with an assistant who does not need to be medically trained. The use of a local guide to introduce the survey team in the community is essential.

Want to carry out your own RAAB survey?

Good planning and organisation are vital for success. Although RAAB has the word “rapid” in its title it is neither easy nor straightforward to undertake. If the RAAB is not undertaken carefully and to a high quality then it will give biased results which will not help with planning or monitoring and will have wasted time and money. RAABs therefore need to be planned and undertaken carefully, and must be supported by a certified RAAB trainer. Further information on planning for a RAAB is available here. A full list of certified RAAB trainers by region is available at the bottom of this page. You must engaged with a certified RAAB trainer before undertaking a RAAB.


Since its inception more than two decades ago, the Rapid Assessment of Avoidable Blindness has received funding support from many donors including ourselves, CBM, the Danish International Development Agency (Danida), Fight for Sight, The Fred Hollows Foundation, the Indigo Trust, Orbis, Peek Vision, The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, Sightsavers and the World Health Organization.

RAAB7 was developed in consultation with a steering group made up of representatives from IAPB, the Vision Loss Expert Group (VLEG), the Vision Catalyst Fund and major eye health non-governmental organisations including CBM, The Fred Hollows Foundation and Sightsavers. Dr Hans Limburg, who first developed the RAAB methodology, remains an active member of the steering group, along with several senior certified RAAB Trainers. The steering group’s valuable input has helped shape RAAB7 to best serve the sector.

Find out more

Contact the RAAB team on enquiries@raab.world for more information.