A new handheld device can potentially make eye exams accessible for billions of people who need them most.
According to the WHO there are over 153 million people who are visually impaired. Obtaining an accurate prescription is the challenge for these millions of people – often in rural areas – due to a shortage of trained professionals. A spectacle prescription, usually derived from a refraction can be a time intensive process, most often performed by an optometrist.
Susana Marcos, Professor of Research at the Institute of Optics (CSIC) said in western countries there is one optometrist for every 5,000 people. In rural India there is one optometrist for every 250,000 people. Handling large populations requires something that is fast, efficient and can be operated by a non-specialist.
Professor Marcos, in collaboration with a group at MIT, has helped convert typically large and expensive Wavefront aberrometers into small, easily operated handheld units, which are now being manufactured in Madara, India, at a fraction of the cost of typical aberrometers.
In rural India there is one optometrist for every 250,000 people
Clinical studies have shown the devices can provide accurate prescriptions, similar to those determined by optometrists.
Patients have obtained 6/6 vision with prescriptions derived from the devices.
While such devices will not replace an optometrist, they might help optometrists in developing countries, allowing them more time to focus on eye disease.
The devices are now being rolled out in the field.