Quality of eyeglass prescriptions from a low-cost wavefront autorefractor evaluated in rural India: results of a 708-participant field study
Objective: To assess the quality of eyeglass prescriptions provided by an affordable wavefront autorefractor operated by a minimally trained technician in a low-resource setting.
Methods and Analysis: 708 participants were recruited from consecutive patients registered for routine eye examinations at Aravind Eye Hospital in Madurai, India, or an affiliated rural satellite vision centre. Visual acuity (VA) and patient preference were compared between trial lenses set to two eyeglass prescriptions from (1) a novel wavefront autorefractor and (2) subjective refraction by an experienced refractionist.
Results: The mean±SD VA was 0.30±0.37, –0.02±0.14 and −0.04±0.11 logarithm of the minimum angle of resolution units before correction, with autorefractor correction and with subjective refraction correction, respectively (all differences p<0.01). Overall, 25% of participants had no preference, 33% preferred eyeglass prescriptions from autorefraction, and 42% preferred eyeglass prescriptions from subjective refraction (p<0.01). Of the 438 patients 40 years old and younger, 96 had no preference and the remainder had no statistically significant difference in preference for subjective refraction prescriptions (51%) versus autorefractor prescriptions (49%) (p=0.52).
Conclusion: Average VAs from autorefractor-prescribed eyeglasses were one letter worse than those from subjective refraction. More than half of all participants either had no preference or preferred eyeglasses prescribed by the autorefractor. This marginal difference in quality may warrant autorefractor-based prescriptions, given the portable form factor, short measurement time, low cost and minimal training required to use the autorefractor evaluated here.