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New Portable Autorefractor Can Exam Eyes within 10 Seconds

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Eyeglass prescription has become cheaper in the last decade. Unfortunately, that price drop has only been effective in developed countries, because many people living in third-world countries still struggle from such a high cost. But that may change with the help of a new portable device that can perform eye exams.

The newly developed device is called QuickSee that provides autorefraction measurements in just 10 seconds. The cost of the device is about a third of the conventional autorefraction service and small enough that it can be held by the patient while performing the eye exam.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, when a person is fitting for a pair of eyeglasses or contact lenses, the eye doctor must give a copy of the prescription, whether it was requested or not as part of the law. The consumer is not required to pay an extra fee, buy the products or sign any waiver or form. It is a choice to purchase any suggested eyewear products.

The prescription may also be used to purchase eyeglasses or contact lenses from other providers. However, a seller cannot simply sell eyewear products that require prescriptions. The consumer must provide specific information, such as the manufacturer, lens type, power, base curve, and diameter, in order to purchase a product. The seller may also need to verify the information provided by the eye doctor.

Both the ophthalmologist and optometrist can diagnose eye problems and prescribe eyeglasses and contact lenses specifically designed for the following eye disorders:

1. Astigmatism is an eye condition associated with the uneven or irregular curvature of the cornea or the lens. The irregularity causes blurred or distorted vision, and certain symptoms, such as squint, eye fatigue, and headaches. Eyewear or laser eye surgery or LASIK are often treatments of moderate to severe astigmatism.

2. Farsightedness or hyperopia is defined as good vision at a distance but, not in close range. The eye condition happens when the eyeball becomes shorter than normal or when the cornea has very little curvature. Eyewear, LASIK, and photorefractive keratectomy are treatments for moderate to severe cases of farsightedness.

3. Nearsightedness or myopia is referred to good vision in close range but, not at a distance. In contrast to hyperopia, myopia happens when the eyeball becomes too long from front to back. Treatment options for nearsightedness include eyewear, acrylic corneal implants, LASIK, PRK, and radial keratotomy.

4. Eyes gradually lose their flexibility as age advances, causing difficulty in focusing on objects, especially printed or written characters. The eye condition is called presbyopia or aging eyes which cannot be prevented. Remedies for the condition include corrective lenses, such as bifocals, trifocals, and single-vision reading glasses.

Eye specialists can diagnose these eye conditions using an autorefractor but, standard autorefractors are usually bulky and require proper eye care facilities to be transported. The maker of QuickSee, PlenOptika, conducted a study to evaluate its performance and accuracy. The researchers recruited 41 adults to undergo noncycloplegic refraction using three different methods – the QuickSee device, the Grand Seiko WR-5100K autorefractor, and a subjective refraction. The subjective refraction was used as the gold standard to measure the accuracy of both the QuickSee and the Grand Seiko devices.

The findings revealed that both autorefractors have the equivalent power of 95 percent confidence interval of ±0.84 diopters. The cylindrical and spherical powers by GS agreed within the 0.25 diopters of the subjective refraction in 49 to 82 percent of the eyes. While the cylindrical and spherical powers by QS agreed in 74 to 87 percent of the eyes. It means that QS delivered similar performance with the GS autorefractor but, in a portable form that can be transported in many regions.

“People at the bottom of the pyramid have poor vision because they don’t have glasses or aren’t aware of how to get glasses. It’s a big unmet medical need we’re trying to address,” said Shivang Dave, a co-author of the study and a former post-doctorate at the Madrid-MIT M+Visión Consortium.

QuickSee resembles a pair of binoculars and patients can peer into the viewing end and stare at an object in the distance, the standard test to measure autorefraction. The technician simply taps the green arrow on the digital screen of the device to retrieve measurement within 10 seconds.

The device allows hospitals, optometry clinics, and non-government units to train personnel and bring it in travels to rural areas or urban slums to perform tests. For developed regions, the device can be an alternative to the bulky and more expensive autorefractors. Dave clarified that the device targets the tools used by optometrists, not the specialists.

“We couldn’t train 100,000 new optometrists, but we could look at the technologies available and re-engineer them to be lower cost and easier to use,” said Dave.

[메디컬리포트=Ralph Chen 기자]

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