Disparities in Eye Care Utilization Among the United States Adults With Visual Impairment: Findings From the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System 2006-2009

American Journal of Ophthalmology (Impact Factor: 3.87). 12/2012; 154(6):S45-S52.e1. DOI: 10.1016/j.ajo.2011.09.025


To estimate the prevalence of annual eye care among visually impaired United States residents aged 40 years or older, by state, race/ethnicity, education, and annual income.DesignCross-sectional study.Methods
In analyses of 2006-2009 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System data from 21 states, we used multivariate regression to estimate the state-level prevalence of yearly eye doctor visit in the study population by race/ethnicity (non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic black, Hispanic, and other), annual income (≥$35 000 and <$35 000), and education (< high school, high school, and > high school).ResultsThe age-adjusted state-level prevalence of yearly eye doctor visits ranged from 48% (Missouri) to 69% (Maryland). In Alabama, Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, New Mexico, and North Carolina, the prevalence was significantly higher among respondents with more than a high school education than among those with a high school education or less (P < .05). The prevalence was positively associated with annual income levels in Alabama, Georgia, New Mexico, New York, Texas, and West Virginia and negatively associated with annual income levels in Massachusetts. After controlling for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, and income, we also found significant disparities in the prevalence of yearly eye doctor visits among states.Conclusion
Among visually impaired US residents aged 40 or older, the prevalence of yearly eye examinations varied significantly by race/ethnicity, income, and education, both overall and within states. Continued and possibly enhanced collection of eye care utilization data, such as we analyzed here, may help states address disparities in vision health and identify population groups most in need of intervention programs.

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