Many Americans Lack Access to Needed Eye Care

Resources should be better targeted to those in need

TUESDAY, March 13 (HealthDay News) -- Access to eye care is uneven in the United States with many people deprived of necessary treatment, resulting in an estimated 5 million adults at risk of vision loss because they cannot afford eyeglasses, according to a report in the March issue of the Archives of Ophthalmology.

Xinzhi Zhang, M.D., Ph.D., of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and colleagues analyzed data from 30,920 adults who were part of the 2002 National Health Interview Survey.

The data suggested that an estimated 61 million American adults were at risk for serious vision problems because they had diabetes, eye problems or were aged 65 and above, but only about half (42 percent of total exams performed) had a dilated eye examination in the previous 12 months. People with insurance, women, diabetic patients and those with vision or eye problems were more likely to have a dilated eye examination. The authors estimate that approximately 5 million adults couldn't afford to buy eyeglasses when they needed them.

"Many conditions causing visual impairment and blindness are often asymptomatic in their early, treatable stages," the authors conclude. "There is substantial inequity in access to eye care in the United States. Better targeting of resources and efforts toward people at high risk may help reduce these disparities."

Abstract
Full Text (subscription or payment may be required)
Editorial

Physician's Briefing