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Personal Identification Based on Prescription Eyewear

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This study presents a web-based tool that can be used to assist in identification of unknown individuals using spectacle prescriptions. Currently, when lens prescriptions are used in forensic identifications, investigators are constrained to a simple “match” or “no-match” judgment with an antemortem prescription. It is not possible to evaluate the strength of the conclusion, or rather, the potential or real error rates associated with the conclusion. Three databases totaling over 385,000 individual prescriptions are utilized in this study to allow forensic analysts to easily determine the strength of individuation of a spectacle match to antemortem records by calculating the frequency at which the observed prescription occurs in various U.S. populations. Optical refractive errors are explained, potential states and combinations of refractive errors are described, measuring lens corrections is discussed, and a detailed description of the databases is presented. The practical application of this system is demonstrated using two recent forensic identifications. This research provides a valuable personal identification tool that can be used in cases where eyeglass portions are recovered in forensic contexts.
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Keywords: forensic science; optical lenses; optical prescription strength; personal identification; reliability; spectacle prescriptions; statistics

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command—Central Identification Laboratory (JPAC-CIL), Hickam AFB, HI 96853 2: Wilford Hall Medical Center, Lackland Air Force Base, TX 78236

Publication date: 01 March 2007

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