The Uncorrected Refractive Error Challenge

  • Refractive error affects people of all ages, socio-economic status and ethnic groups.

  • It was estimated that the number of people with vision impairment due to uncorrected distance refractive error was 107.8 million, and the number of people affected by uncorrected near refractive error was 517 million, giving a total of 624.8 million people.

  • Despite being one of the more easily corrected conditions resulting in vision impairment, uncorrected refractive error still remains a significant cause of vision impairment globally.

  • A number of factors contribute to this situation: a lack of trained eye health workers to address the current refractive challenges, poor integration of refractive services into existing eye health services and a limited number of good quality training programmes.

  • Current challenges include the uneven distribution of refraction training institutions and a lack of standardisation, which makes it difficult to maintain the quality of services.

  • Successful services have an integrated team approach, with a clear referral pathway and a defined scope of service at each level.

  • Social enterprise (SE) solutions provide refractive error services while at the same time alleviating poverty and providing employment opportunities at the same time necessary equipment and space needs to be allocated for services to be delivered and an affordable spectacle supply chain.

Publication date

October 26, 2018


Community Eye Health Journal


Kovin Naidoo, Pirindha Govender, and Brien Holden
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