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Keri Allen, Scott McIntosh; Assessing and Improving Healthy Vision of Children in Low-Income Communities. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2011;52(14):6332.
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The University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry (URSMD) offers free annual school physical exams to children in local low-income communities. The vision screening component of the school physicals includes visual acuity testing using the Snellen vision chart. The purpose of this two year study was to demonstrate using a survey that children participating in the free physical exams offered at URSMD did not have access to comprehensive eye care and would benefit from having a comprehensive eye exam included as a component of the school physicals. Additionally, the study assessed both the frequency of children who failed the vision screening and the utilization of the free comprehensive eye exam that was newly implemented in fall 2010.
The author developed a survey using a non-standardized questionnaire that assessed subjects’ access to comprehensive eye care. The survey was distributed to the parents and subjects over 18 who participated in the annual URSMD free physical exams held fall 2009 and 2010. An IRB approved cover letter served as informed consent. De-identified information was collected on the surveys, which included the subjects’ visual acuity tested at the vision screening. All subjects who failed the vision screening in fall 2010 were referred for a free comprehensive eye exam.
Analysis of the 552 surveys collected indicated, that 75% of subjects surveyed did not have an eye doctor. Of the subjects that had a previous eye exam, 76% did not have their eyes dilated. Additionally 54% of subjects admitted that adding a comprehensive eye exam to the free physicals would improve the subjects’ access to eye care. Over the two year study, 10% of subjects failed the vision screening. Of the 35 subjects who failed the vision screening in fall 2010, only 6 (17%) utilized the free comprehensive eye exam.
The survey results indicated that there was a need to add a comprehensive eye exam as a formal referral process for students who failed the vision screening at the URSMD school physicals. However, the poor utilization (17%) of the free comprehensive eye exam offered in the fall of 2010 indicates that there are significant barriers that will need to be addressed in order to improve utilization of the comprehensive eye exam.
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