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J.H. Sugg, R.W. Enzenauer, L. Yarbrough; Public Survey of Pediatric Eye Disease and Eye Care . Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2003;44(13):4848.
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Purpose: Parental understanding of pediatric eye disease and eye care is often found to be lacking. Increasing the public’s knowledge of this subject is critical in our efforts to improve early detection in, and delivery of care to children with eye disorders. This study was designed to evaluate public knowledge of basic pediatric eye disease and eye care. Methods: Anonymous questionnaires were sent out to the parents of elementary school children at a local, middle class, elementary school. The 1st set of questions was demographical (i.e. educational background, experience with eye care, and medical/family history). The 2nd set was basic questions about pediatric eye disease (i.e. very basic ocular anatomy, refractive errors, and strabismus/amblyopia). The 3rd set was to evaluate the understanding of the differences between ophthalmologists, optometrists, and opticians. Results: We received back 169 completed questionnaires (approx. 32% response rate). It was found that 59% of the responders had completed at least some college. 91% responded that at least one parent had had a professional eye exam. 48% responded that their child had received a professional eye exam, and 49% indicated their child had never had an exam. Only 16% of all responders answered correctly more than half of the "eye disease" questions, and 59% answered correctly more than half of the "eye care professional" questions. There was a significant (p-value = .04) difference in the numbers of correctly answered "knowledge" and "eye care professional" questions between those with no college education and those with at least some college education. There was no significant difference in the number of correctly answered questions in either question category between those who had children who had received an eye exam and those whose children had not. Conclusions: This survey reveals that there is a significant lack of understanding of basic eye disease in the general public. This study reveals that higher education positively effects parental knowledge of eye care. It is concerning that there was no difference in the knowledge level of those who had been in contact with eye care professionals and those that had not. Improving the delivery of eye care to the pediatric population is critically dependent on parental understanding and cooperation. An effort should be made among eye care providers to better educate the parents of our young patients.
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