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Brian Stagg, Brad Henriksen, Max Padilla, Bryce Radmall, Erica Liu, Jason Jensen, Aabid Farukhi, Jeff Pettey, Albert T Vitale; Demographic and Clinical Profile of a Homeless Population Presenting to an Ophthalmology Outreach Clinic. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2014;55(13):5572.
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To evaluate the demographics, chief complaint, and diagnoses of patients presenting to an ophthalmology clinic for homeless populations.
Retrospective chart review of all patients seen at an eye clinic dedicated to homeless patients from 2008 to 2013.
178 individual patients were seen, with a total of 238 clinic visits. All patients were homeless with 66% male and 34% female. The average age was 50. The most common chief complaint was decreased vision (29% of visits) followed by diabetic eye screening (27%), glaucoma evaluation (9%), eye pain (5%), growth on eye (3%), and red eye (3%). Only 2.5% of the patients evaluated had a normal exam. The most common diagnosis was cataract (35% of visits), followed by NPDR (13%), refractive error (11%), glaucoma (8%), glaucoma suspect (7%), dry eye syndrome (7%), thyroid eye disease (4%), ocular misalignment (3%), pterygium (3%), and conjunctivitis (3%). Follow-up was recommended in 60% of visits; however, of these patients, only 36% were seen again.
This study provides an important snapshot of ocular health in a relatively unstudied patient population. In this setting, homeless patients were very likely to have ocular pathology, with only 2.5% having a normal eye exam. Chronic blinding diseases such as diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma were present in a significant portion of the homeless population. These chronic diseases are especially difficult to treat in a population with socioeconomic challenges to consistent follow-up. Concerted efforts focused on the treatment and longitudinal follow-up of chronic ocular disease in indigent populations are necessary.
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