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Invited Commentary
October 2016

The Role of Contextual Factors in Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Eye Care Use

Author Affiliations
  • 1USC Roski Eye Institute, Department of Ophthalmology, Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California, Los Angeles
JAMA Ophthalmol. 2016;134(10):1167-1168. doi:10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2016.2996

Visual impairment and blindness are important causes of morbidity and mortality in older adults in the United States. Fortunately, most cases can be prevented by early detection and interventions. The American Academy of Ophthalmology 2015 guidelines1 recommend that adults at higher risk for certain ocular diseases (eg, African American and Hispanic individuals) should receive comprehensive eye examinations every 1 to 3 years between the ages of 40 and 54 years and every 1 to 2 years after age 54 years, even in the absence of symptoms. Americans, including these high-risk minority groups, are not now following these recommendations. In addition, significant disparities exist among racial/ethnic groups. The National Health Interview Survey2 revealed that Hispanic or Latino individuals (48.1%) and American Indians or Alaskan natives (47.6%) are least likely to have received dilated eye examinations within the past 2 years compared with other racial/ethnic groups (≥55%). To reduce the burden of visual impairment and blindness, it is essential to identify factors limiting eye care use and to develop public health interventions targeting these barriers.

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