Technically: It can be very academic in our offices. Part of what we do is very technical. The USee part. Just listening to phone calls between Kevin White and the team of physicists, polymer experts, mechanical engineers and such can be overwhelming. But with all of that brainpower, a simple idea of a progressive power lens bar has been made into an extremely simple, user-friendly device to help diagnose uncorrected refractive error (URE) in low resource and extremely remote areas of the world.
If you’ve read it once on this blog, well, you’ve probably only read it once. Nevertheless, on average, there is only 1 eye care professional (optometrist/ophthalmologist) for every 1,000,000 persons in the developing world. Because this hurdle is real, we strive to meet the problem where it is, versus reinvent the devoloped world’s solution in areas around the globe where the cost and logistical burden would instantly bring implementation to a halt.
A little background: That is not to say wonderful organizations that bring the optometrist to remote regions of there world are without access. They exist and are very impactful. In fact, many are members of the EYElliance just like us; and some of these organizations you may have heard of: Orbis, Restoring Vision, or Light For the World. They are our partners in this fight against the global epidemic of poor vision.
Yet, what GV2020 does is fundamentally different from many of the organizations in the world battling the epidemic of vision loss. We are ardent supporters of self-refraction, the idea that a person can figure out on their own – with a tool – the correct prescription for their vision. Self refraction is not a substitute for a full optometric exam, but it offers a solution to basic blurry vision.
We do this:
Since the advent of self refraction – by Dr. Josh Silver and his AdSpecs, along with Jan In’t Veld and his idea to apply the Alvarez lens to eyeglasses – there has been some debate over its effectiveness. So the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins University studied the USee, and in February concluded:
“Self-refraction provides acceptable refractive error correction in the majority of adults. Programs targeting resource-poor settings could potentially use USee to provide easy on-site refractive error correction.“
(Full Peer-Reviewed journal here: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0192055)
Building on the published work by Hopkins’ Wilmer, the Hanoi School of Medicine and the Vietnam National Institute of Ophthalmology, along with Global Vision Advisor, Dr. Bruce Moore and Kevin White will run clinical trials to determine efficacy of the use of the USee on children as young as 7. The results will help determine the strengths and limitations of self-refraction in younger populations.
Research – the academic side of what we do – can seem unnecessary to some, especially if you’ve tried a USee on, or dialed in your Rx with a pair of AdSpecs; but it provides Global Vision with the support needed to broaden our acceptance in the ophthalmic and optometric world of vision care. Historically there were more naysayers, but research is proving effective at turning the tide.
The Global Vision team is pleased with the interest the USee has garnered from medical researchers, and that the clinical trials are supporting our claim that the USee is an effective tool for diagnosing URE.
The broadening of support for the USee makes it possible for basic vision care to reach regions of the world where corner optometry shops simply do not exist. This access, for the millions of people currently without it, improves their lives, and it also provides a referral mechanism for vision care professionals in those regions – they are left to take on the more complex vision issues that we cannot.
The USee is a win-win for the over-worked vision care worker and base of the pyramid citizen that they serve.