Public Health Research

It is through research studies that we know uncorrected refractive error is the leading cause of vision impairment globally and the second leading cause of blindness

How does research help us provide eye care services?

Our research helps to quantify the nature and extent of vision impairment as well as the associated economic and quality of life impacts. This valuable information also guides program priorities and development strategies.

Once programs are established, ongoing research evaluating the effectiveness of our methods and the scale of our impact, feeds into subsequent designs and improves eye care outcomes worldwide, thereby reducing poverty and suffering.

This includes engagement with communities where studies are undertaken to ensure initiatives are appropriate for each context.

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What does our research focus on?

Our research builds our knowledge of vision impairment in different locations and evaluates every program we implement. Study types include:
  • Rapid assessment of refractive errors (RARE) studies
  • Rapid assessment of avoidable blindness (RAAB) studies
  • Refractive error studies in children (RESC)

  PNG has one of the highest rates of blindness in the
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Health economics
Operational research
Qualitative research

Locations and Studies

  • Argentina
    (Presbyopia study)
  • Colombia
    (Prevalence of uncorrected refractive error among children)
  • Colombia
    (Prevalence of uncorrected refractive error, presbyopia and spectacle coverage)
  • Eritrea
  • Ghana
    (RESC, RARE)
  • Mozambique
  • Nicaragua
    (Presbyopia study)
  • Papua New Guinea
    (Trachoma mapping)
  • South Africa
    (RARE, RAAB)
  • Tanzania
  • Uganda
  • Vietnam
Health Economics
  • Nigeria (Benefits of integrated school eye health vs vertical school eye health program)
  • South Africa (War on poverty study, work productivity study)
  • South Africa (Presbyopia study, work productivity study)
Operational Research
  • Australia
    (Models of vision care study)
  • Australia
    (Regional models and workforce training)
  • Cambodia
    (Vision centre effectiveness study)
  • Cambodia (Assessment of refraction training)
  • Nigeria
    (Cataract outcomes study)
  • Malawi
    (Education evaluation)
  • Mozambique
    (Education evaluation)
  • Papua New Guinea
    (Vision centre effectiveness study)
  • Papua New Guinea
    (Low vision services assessment)
  • Sri Lanka
    (Vision centre effectiveness study)
  • Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya
    (East Africa child eye health monitoring exercise)
  • Vietnam
    (Optometry development)
  • Vietnam
    (Education evaluation, comparative assessment)
Mountain View
  • Australia
    (Patient experience of eye health services)
  • China
    (Patient experiences of screening services)
  • Cambodia
    (Access to services, willingness to pay)
  • Malawi
    (World Bank spectacle compliance study)
  • Malawi
    (Spectacle uptake survey in vision centres)
  • Nigeria
    (World Bank spectacle compliance study)
  • Papua New Guinea (KAP, QoL)
  • South Africa (QoL)
  • Vietnam (KAP)

"Uncorrected vision impairment is a major public health issue. The prevalence of both myopia (short-sightedness) and presbyopia (aging sight) are increasing dramatically worldwide. Research is critical in guiding how we effectively address these challenges. Work productivity studies indicate the economic value for employers and may influence them investing in correcting their staff’s vision"

Ving Fai Chan, Research Manager, Africa

Global figures and statistics

  • 124 million people are vision impaired due to distance uncorrected refractive error1
  • A further 1.094 billion people have inadequate correction for functional presbyopia (an age-related difficulty of focusing on near objects)2
  • Hence, a total of 1.22 billion people are blind or vision impaired simply because they don’t have access to an eye examination and appropriate spectacles1,2
  • 80% of global vision impairment can be prevented or treated3
  • 90% of the world’s vision impaired live in developing countries3
  • In 2009, vision impairment due to uncorrected distance refractive error cost the global economy US$202 billion annually in lost productivity4,5


  1. Flaxman et al. Global causes of blindness and distance vision impairment 1990–2020: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Lancet Global Health. Published online October 11, 2017
  2. Bourne et al, Magnitude, temporal trends, and projections of the global prevalence of blindness and distance and near vision impairment: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Lancet Glob Health. 2017 Sep;5(9):e888-e897.
  3. World Health Organization. Universal eye health A global action plan 2014-2019. (2013).
  4. Smith TST, Frick KD, Holden BA, Fricke TR, Naidoo KS, ‘Potential lost productivity resulting from the global burden of uncorrected refractive error’ in Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 2009; 87.
  5. Fricke TR, Holden BA, Wilson DA, Schlenther G, Naidoo KS, Resnikoff S & Frick KD, Global cost of correcting vision impairment from uncorrected refractive error, Bulletin of the World Health Organization 2012;90:728-738.