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Prescriptions produced in just 10 seconds

It’s hoped a new type of portable autorefractor, which can produce prescriptions in just 10 seconds, will make it easier for patients in remote and poorly resourced areas to access eyeglasses.

A product of MIT spinout, PlenOptika, the QuickSee combines the ease-of-use of an autorefractor and the precision of a wavefront aberrometer, at approximately one-third of the cost of current technologies.

Having been in development for six years, the device has been released already in India and its creators are hoping to expand into other markets quickly.

“People at the bottom of the pyramid have poor vision, because they don’t have glasses or aren’t aware of how to get glasses. It’s a big unmet medical need we’re trying to address,” PlenOptika CEO Dr Shivang Dave said.

“We couldn’t train 100,000 new optometrists, but we could look at the technologies available and re-engineer them to be lower cost and easier to use.”

"We couldn’t train 100,000 new optometrists, but we could look at the technologies available and re-engineer them to be lower cost and easier to use."
Dr Shivang Dave, CEO of PlenOptika

QuickSee resembles a pair of large binoculars, with users peering into the viewing end and staring at an object in the distance. While this occurs, a technician taps a green arrow on a digital screen on the device to start the measurement – which is achieved through the use of a modified wavefront aberrometer.

Among other benefits, the method is more precise than traditional autorefraction technology and produces more accurate measurements.

According to Dave, the problem of correcting vision in developing countries is not just limited to money. Rather, access issues and a lack of optometrists and portable diagnostic equipment were often just as restrictive.

As such, the equipment needed to be cheap to produce and easy to use. It also had to be highly accurate in order to overcome the relative lack of eyecare professionals found in areas where the QuickSee is expected to have the most impact.

In developing countries such as India the device will be sold to hospitals, NGOs and optometry practices, while in developed nations it will likely be targeted at independent optometrists as an alternative to expensive, stationary, or less accurate equipment.

Religious organisations and major corporations are also inquiring about the device’s availability.

“It’s pretty much the whole gamut of people in eyecare looking for the device,” Dave said.

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However, despite the widespread interest, he stressed the company is not attempting to replace optometrists.

“We’re disrupting the tool used by optometrists, not optometrists,” he explained.

The device is currently only available in India, and while PlenOptika is focused on expanding production to cater for its primary and secondary markets, it is not known when it will be released in Australia.

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