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M.J. Leys, R. Althouse, C. Walker, H. Humble, J.V. Odom; West Virginia Survey of Visual Health: Low Vision and Barriers to Access . Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2004;45(13):1122.
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Purpose: We report results of a statewide telephone survey conducted in West Virginia. We concentrate on reports of the types and frequency of barriers to treatment for low vision conditions. Methods: This study defined low vision as impairment in visual functioning that is not treatable with surgery, medicines, or standard optical correction. This study used a Random Digit Dial sample to gather information from 1,026 households. To capture household experiences three surveys address 1) individual respondents who reported that they have a low vision condition; 2) adult family members who were reported to have a low vision condition; and 3) children in the family who were reported to have a low vision condition. The survey asked 30 questions leading to 260 variables. Cross–tabulation of multiple variables was used to classify respondents or their family members as having low vision. Results: Among the 1,026 homes, 226 had at least one member classified as having a low vision problem. The majority of people (88%) classified as having a low vision problem reported being in good health. Among those with low vision, only 65% had an eye exam in the last year and 41% reported being referred by one eye–care specialist to another eye care specialist. Economic barriers appeared substantial; 63% were unemployed. However, 88% claimed having medical insurance and 60% stated their insurance covered eye–care. Transportation barriers are common. Of those with low vision, 57% reported that they continued to drive. Among those who once drove but gave up driving, 45% attribute quitting to eyesight. Knowledge is also a major barrier to treatment. Almost three–quarters (71%) say rehabilitation is not possible for their vision problems. The impact of low vision on peoples lives is substantial. 58% of those classified as having low vision reported thinking about their vision problem at least half of the time. Of those 41% reported worry; 47% felt frustration; and 26% felt moderate pain. Conclusions: West Virginia is a rural, poor state with the highest mean age in the US. Low vision problems are frequent in the state affecting about 22% of households. Economic, transportation, and psychosocial barriers affect the patterns and type of treatment sought and services obtained among WV residents with low vision problems.
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