Startup aims to make vision care more accessible in developing world | 1/11/2018 | Staff
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Vision impairment is a major global issue. More than 2 billion people worldwide don't have access to corrective lenses.

Getting eyeglasses prescriptions is especially difficult in developing countries. Optometrists are generally located in urban centers and rarely see patients from rural areas, so many people suffer from uncorrected impairments. According to the World Health Organization, this can lead to impaired quality of life, learning difficulties, and lost employment opportunities and finances.

MIT - Spinout - PlenOptika - Issue - Autorefractor

Now MIT spinout PlenOptika aims to correct this issue with a highly accurate, portable autorefractor that measures refractive errors of the eye and produces estimated prescriptions in 10 seconds. Moreover, it's more affordable than the current technology, with the potential to reach patients in previously inaccessible areas of developing countries.

After six years of development, eight product iterations, and several clinical studies with a total of 1,500 patients across five countries, the device, called QuickSee, has hit the market in India.

People - Bottom - Pyramid - Vision - Glasses

"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," says Shivang Dave, one of four former postdocs at the Madrid-MIT M+Visión Consortium (now MIT LinQ), along with Daryl Lim, Eduardo Lage, and Nicholas Durr.

In a 708-patient study conducted in 2015 with an early prototype, about 85 percent of patients saw with 20/20 vision after being given glasses using the device's measurement, compared to 91 percent of those who were tested using the optometrist-based gold-standard method. (An abstract of this study was accepted at a premier vision research conference this year). Although not perfect, this data has excited nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that work on vision care, some of which have piloted later versions of the QuickSee.

Autorefractors - Machines

Traditional autorefractors are table-sized, heavy, stationary machines that can cost up to $15,000. They...
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