MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Joshua R. Ehrlich, MD, MPH
Assistant Professor, Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences
Kellogg Eye Center
Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences
University of Michigan
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: This study came out of data collected as part of the National Poll on Healthy Aging (NPHA). The NPHA is funded by AARP and the Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation at the University of Michigan to inform the public, healthcare providers, and policymakers on a variety issues related to health. The vision survey, conducted in March 2018, was just one of many NPHA surveys.
Due to aging of the population, the number of older U.S. adults with blindness and vision impairment is expected to double over the next 30 years. Thus, this study was designed to provide crucial data on contemporary data on patterns of eye care utilization in older adults.
MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?
Response: We found that a large proportion of older adults – more than 80% — reported having an eye exam in the past 2 years. However, certain groups, such as those who did not have a spouse or partner, had lower household incomes, or were from certain regions of the U.S. were less likely to have had a recent eye exam.
Common reasons cited for not having an eye exam included not noticing a problem, cost, and lack of insurance coverage.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: Most older U.S. adults report having had a recent eye exam. However, there are some socioeconomic and demographic groups that may be significantly less likely to receive eye care. In addition, 28% of those with diabetes reported not having an eye exam in the past year, though annual eye exams are recommended for this group that is at high risk for vision problems as a complication of diabetes.
While many older U.S adults appear to be receiving eye care, targeted public health messaging may be warranted to reach those who are at high risk for vision problems and are less likely to get eye exams.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?
Response: Future research should examine the impact of local and national health policy changes on eye care utilization and vision health. These data are needed to support evidence-based approaches to promote healthy vision for an aging population.
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