Researchers at the Wilmer Eye Institute in Baltimore believe that improving visual acuity (VA) in a patient with concurrent ocular disease is more restorative and potentially more meaningful than low vision rehabilitation interventions. Their study found that uncorrected refractive error is prevalent among patients with ocular disease and those accessing low vision rehabilitation. In addition, 27.8% of patients with corneal disease and mean VA of 20/100 had at least a two-line acuity improvement with a simple refraction.

The research included 1,773 patients with ocular disease and VA worse than 20/40 who were new to the low vision rehabilitation clinics. The researchers noted the visual improvements after refraction were more significant in patients aged 40 to 65 years, those with habitual VA worse than 20/60 and better than 20/200, African American patients and those with a higher degree of refractive error.

“Our findings reveal the importance of checking refraction and maximizing VA in working-age adults to enhance performance in meeting occupational and personal demands,” the researchers said. They noted that understanding the effects of refractive correction alone in patients with ocular disease could modify management and VA outcome expectations of medical and surgical interventions.

Gui X, Swenor BK, Goldstein JE. Association of visual acuity improvement with uncorrected refractive error in patients new to low vision clinics. JAMA Ophthalmol. May 21, 2020. [Epub ahead of print].