The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes uncorrected refractive errors including, myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), astigmatism and presbyopia, as visual impairments. Sight impairment from uncorrected refractive errors (URE) affects 108 million people globally and is the second leading cause of blindness worldwide (Naidoo et al., 2016). The Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries and Risk Factors Study of 2016, includes Refraction and Accommodation Disorders among the list of conditions that affect disability-adjusted-life-years (DALYs) and healthy life expectancy (HALE). Simply put, vision impairment can lead to an impaired quality of life.
Uncorrected refractive error (URE) is a major public health challenge with far reaching social and economic effects on individuals. URE impacts educational attainment and employment opportunities leading to a lower socioeconomic status for individuals and their families. Additionally, several studies have examined the relationship between vision loss/impairment and an individual’s wellbeing. In summary, reduced vision places individuals at greater risk for chronic health conditions, accidents, social withdrawal, and depression. The combined personal and societal financial impact is estimated at $269 billion lost annually resulting from lost productivity due to URE (Smith et al., 2009). Refractive error correction with appropriate spectacles is among the most cost-effective public health interventions, leading to increased productivity and elevating quality of life.
URE is not limited to undeveloped countries. In the US, 8.2 million people have visual impairment due to URE, which is projected to double by 2050 to 16.4 million people (Varma et al., 2016). The prevalence of URE varies by demographic location, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, age, gender and insurance attainment (Guo et al, 2016). The highest prevalence for URE is among vulnerable groups such as older people, less educated individuals and those living alone or in rural areas where services are limited (Schneider et al, 2010).
Solutions to address this disparity must focus on increasing access to refractive evaluations, improving affordability of eye glasses and reducing barriers to these services. At EyeQue corporation our aim is to equip individuals with the tools necessary to self-refract with at home testing devices allowing them to accurately measure and order glasses from the convenience of their home. The Personal Vision Tracker by EyeQue empowers people to measure their own refractive status using their smart-phone and the EyeQue PVT app. The ultimate goal of mobile at-home vision testing is to reduce the burden of URE with the direct effect of improving quality of life for the individual.
Guo, W., Woodward, M. A., Heisler, M., Blachley, T., Corneail, L., Cederna, J., … Newman Casey, P. A. (2016). Risk Factors for Visual Impairment in an Uninsured Population and the Impact of the Affordable Care Act. Clinics in Surgery, 1, 1236.
Schneider, J., Leeder, S. R., Gopinath, B., Wang, J. J., & Mitchell, P. (2010). Frequency, course, and impact of correctable visual impairment (uncorrected refractive error). Survey of Ophthalmology, 55(6), 539-560. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.survophthal.2010.02.004
Varma, R., Vajaranant, T. S., Burkemper, B., Wu, S., Torres, M., Hsu, C., … McKean- Cowdin, R. (2016). Visual Impairment and Blindness in Adults in the United States: Demographic and Geographic Variations from 2015 to 2050. JAMA Ophthalmology, 134(7), 802–809. http://doi.org/10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2016.1284