The Refractive Error and Vision Impairment Estimation with Spectacle Data Study
The study aimed to investigate whether sales data of spectacle lenses could be used to estimate the population distribution of refractive errors among individuals with ametropia and assess the risk of vision impairment. The researchers analyzed anonymized patient spectacle lens sales records from a European manufacturer between 1998 and 2016, comparing them to data from the Gutenberg Health Survey (GHS). They found that for refractive errors exceeding +3 diopters for hyperopia and -2 diopters for myopia, spectacle lens sales data could provide comparable estimates to traditional population surveys. However, there were limitations to this approach, including the underrepresentation of individuals with no refractive error in the spectacle lens data, as they typically don't purchase lenses. The study also couldn't account for individuals using alternative forms of correction, like contact lenses, or those who had undergone refractive or cataract surgery. Despite these limitations, the study suggests that industrial data sources, such as spectacle lens sales data, could be a valuable tool for estimating the population distribution of refractive errors, especially for higher absolute levels of refractive error like myopia. This approach could aid in public health planning and understanding the changing epidemiology of refractive errors and vision impairment. The study concludes that creating an international consortium to gather and merge industry data could provide ongoing and globally representative resources for monitoring these issues.