Refractive error in underserved adults: causes and potential solutions

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Purpose of review

To evaluate the epidemiology of uncorrected refractive errors (URE) in adults both in the United States and globally, health outcomes impacted by URE, common barriers to treatment, and propose potential interventions.

Recent fndings

URE is the main cause of visual impairment and the second leading cause of blindness globally. Rates of URE are rising, and cause disability that reduces productivity, economic earnings, and the quality of life of affected individuals. Economic barriers, healthcare access, and sociocultural constraints are among the most fundamental barriers to correcting URE. However, innovative approaches are poised to lower rates of URE.


URE is a leading cause of preventable visual impairment with serious health consequences. Numerous social and financial barriers are associated with the high prevalence of URE in low-income adults. Novel delivery programs for eyeglasses and programs to provide refractive surgery to correct refractive error could decrease rates of URE.

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