More on Vision Insurance
Why Are Visually Impaired Americans Not Getting Eye Care?
Mainly It's Cost, Lack of Insurance and No Perception of Need
May 2011 — If you were visually impaired or had an age-related eye disease, would you get regular eye care? Many Americans aged 40 and over with these problems don't, says the government's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Eye care cost or lack of health insurance (39.8 percent) and perception of no need or not having thought of it (34.6 percent) were the most common reasons cited when people were asked why they hadn't visited an eye care provider in the last year. And while 21.1 percent chose the "other" response, more specific reasons were "do not have/know an eye doctor," "too far, no transportation" and "could not get appointments."
Men were more likely than women to report no need for eye care (41.7 percent vs. 28.7 percent). Also, those 65 or older reported this more than those aged 40-64 (43.8 percent vs. 32.9 percent). "A possible reason for this is that older adults might regard impairment as a normal part of aging," wrote the study authors.
The authors also noted that a previous study had shown that primary-care providers were not adequately highlighting the need for eye care to their patients.
Regarding cost and lack of insurance, only 21.6 percent of Massachusetts respondents aged 40-64 chose that reason for not getting eye exams. But in Tennessee it was 60.4 percent. For those 65 and older, in Massachusetts it was 8.9 percent, but in West Virginia it was 48.0 percent. As the study authors noted, Massachusetts is the state with the smallest percentage of residents with no health insurance.
The CDC's analysis used data from Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System surveys, a series of annual, state-based phone surveys, conducted from 2006 to 2009. Data from 21 states were used in the analysis, with a sample of 11,503 adults aged 40 or over with self-reported moderate to severe visual impairment who had not visited an eye care provider in the previous year. The definition of "visual impairment" was difficulty in recognizing a friend across the street and in reading various types of printed material.
The study report appeared on May 20 in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.