Frequency, course, and impact of correctable visual impairment (uncorrected refractive error)

Surv Ophthalmol. 2010 Nov-Dec;55(6):539-60. doi: 10.1016/j.survophthal.2010.02.004. Epub 2010 Sep 20.


Uncorrected refractive error has been identified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as one of the priorities for Vision 2020 and a frequent cause of visual impairment. In the past, only the terms presenting visual impairment (PVI) and visual impairment after best refractive correction (BCVI) were used, so that PVI also included BCVI cases. In the more recent literature, visual impairment has been subdivided into two mutually exclusive entities: that which is correctable by refraction (which we now term correctable visual impairment, CVI) and that which cannot be corrected by refraction due to ocular or neurological disease (which we now term non-correctable visual impairment, NCVI, and which is identical to BCVI). PVI remains a useful concept as it includes both types of impairment. Although CVI is reported to be the major form of visual impairment worldwide, its impacts are not yet well understood. CVI has a higher prevalence among vulnerable groups such as older people, less well educated people and those living alone or in rural areas. Systematic data on barriers to refractive correction remain scant, but these may be present at the individual level, within the health service context, or at a social level. Our review indicates that research on CVI is at a relatively early stage and that more detailed research, particularly determining whether it has impacts on independent living and quality of life, is needed before CVI can be justifiably prioritized in health policy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Global Health
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Refractive Errors / epidemiology*
  • Refractive Errors / therapy*
  • Visually Impaired Persons / statistics & numerical data*