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Clin Ophthalmol. 2014 Feb 17;8:405-13. doi: 10.2147/OPTH.S46057. eCollection 2014.

Self-adjustable glasses in the developing world.

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Indian Institute of Public Health, Public Health Foundation of India, Hyderabad.
Centre for Chronic Disease Control, Public Health Foundation of India, New Delhi, India.


Uncorrected refractive errors are the single largest cause of visual impairment globally. Refractive errors are an avoidable cause of visual impairment that are easily correctable. Provision of spectacles is a cost-effective measure. Unfortunately, this simple solution becomes a public health challenge in low- and middle-income countries because of the paucity of human resources for refraction and optical services, lack of access to refraction services in rural areas, and the cost of spectacles. Low-cost approaches to provide affordable glasses in developing countries are critical. A number of approaches has been tried to surmount the challenge, including ready-made spectacles, the use of focometers and self-adjustable glasses, among other modalities. Recently, self-adjustable spectacles have been validated in studies in both children and adults in developed and developing countries. A high degree of agreement between self-adjustable spectacles and cycloplegic subjective refraction has been reported. Self-refraction has also been found to be less prone to accommodative inaccuracy compared with non-cycloplegic autorefraction. The benefits of self-adjusted spectacles include: the potential for correction of both distance and near vision, applicability for all ages, the empowerment of lay workers, the increased participation of clients, augmented awareness of the mechanism of refraction, reduced costs of optical and refraction units in low-resource settings, and a relative reduction in costs for refraction services. Concerns requiring attention include a need for the improved cosmetic appearance of the currently available self-adjustable spectacles, an increased range of correction (currently -6 to +6 diopters), compliance with international standards, quality and affordability, and the likely impact on health systems. Self-adjustable spectacles show poor agreement with conventional refraction methods for high myopia and are unable to correct astigmatism. A limitation of the fluid-filled adjustable spectacles (AdSpecs, Adaptive Eyecare Ltd, Oxford, UK) is that once the spectacles are self-adjusted and the power fixed, they become unalterable, just like conventional spectacles. Therefore, they will need to be changed as refractive power changes over time. Current costs of adjustable spectacles are high in developing countries and therefore not affordable to a large segment of the population. Self-adjustable spectacles have potential for "upscaling" if some of the concerns raised are addressed satisfactorily.


developing countries; eye disease; refractive error; spectacles

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