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Tracy M. Wright, Milan P. Ranka, Gustavo V. De Moraes, Homer Venters, Christopher C. Teng; Epidemiology of Eye disease in a New York City Jail Population. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2011;52(14):5548.
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Incarcerated patients have access to ophthalmologic care that often is otherwise very limited in their community. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the epidemiology of eye disease in a New York City jail population seen at a large New York City public hospital.
A retrospective review was performed of the medical records of 533 male inmates from Riker’s Island Jail seen by the Bellevue Hospital Ophthalmology Consult Service from 2005-2010. Medical records were screened for socio-demographic data, medical history, and ocular morbidity.
Mean age in our study group was 39 ±13.2 years (range: 16-84). Of 533 patients evaluated, 319 (60%) were African American, 144 (27 %) were Hispanic, 53 (10%) were Caucasian, and 17 (3.0%) were other ethnicities including Asian and Middle Eastern patients. Two hundred and sixteen patients (41%) had no medical problems, 119 (22%) had hypertension, 102 (19%) had diabetes, and 50 (9%) were HIV positive. Two hundred and fourty four inmates (46%) had trauma-related diagnoses, including orbital fractures (13%), traumatic iritis (8.4%), blunt ocular trauma without fracture (5.4%), and ruptured globes (3.4%). The next most common diagnoses were glaucoma suspect (8.1%), nonproliferative diabetic retinopathy (7.3%), cataracts (6.6%), primary open angle glaucoma (5.1%), hypertensive retinopathy (4.9 %), proliferative diabetic retinopathy (2.1%) and retinal detachments (1.9 %). Of the 35 patients with cataracts, 8 (23%) had a history or trauma in the affected eye.
Trauma-related injuries were the most common cause of eye disease seen in our inmate group, which was comprised largely of young, African-American males with no medical problems. In spite of a young age, individuals with a history of incarceration have a high burden of ocular morbidity, mostly due to trauma. Efforts to prevent acute trauma while incarcerated and improve screening for chronic ocular disease should be implemented in the correctional setting.
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