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Isis Zhang, Priya Tailor, Aretha Zhu, Rashika Verma, Miriam Habiel, Albert S Khouri, Bernard Szirth; Provision of Reading Glasses During Underserved Community-Based Tele-Ophthalmology Screenings. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2022;63(7):1385 – A0081.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
The most common cause of blurry vision in the United States is refractive error. Despite being a correctable condition, over 8.2 million people are estimated to have their refractive error go undiagnosed or untreated. Minorities and low-income groups in particular have significantly increased odds of inadequate correction and double the rates of near-vision impairment. We aimed to address this gap in care through the provision of refractive glasses during community-based tele-ophthalmology screenings.
Eight free eye screening events were held in Newark and West New York, NJ. Demographic information, intraocular pressure, visual acuity, auto-refraction, retinal imaging, and optical coherence tomography were obtained from each subject as part of a comprehensive tele-ophthalmology protocol. Reading glasses were provided as needed based on the recommendation of a certified telemedicine reader. Eligible recipients completed surveys on site regarding access to eye care. They were surveyed again by phone after one month to assess degree of satisfaction and vision improvement.
38 subjects (mean age 53, 47% male) qualified for presbyopia correction and received reading glasses. 97% were Hispanic and 3% were African American. Of the 33 that returned surveys, 88% reported not seeing an eye doctor annually. The most common reason was lack of insurance or inability to pay (71%). Others included having no need to see an eye doctor (10%), disliking eye doctors (7%), not knowing the importance of regular eye exams (3%), and COVID-19 (3%). Of the 25 subjects that were reached for follow-up, 92% reported using the glasses daily. Those that did not reported the power was too strong or they did not feel they needed them. Subjects noted an average improvement in vision of 4.4 out of 5 and an average satisfaction of 4.7 out of 5 (Figure 1).
Glasses distribution is an effective way to address refractive error in underserved communities. Given the gaps in knowledge and utilization of eye care identified in our study, there is an obvious need for continued outreach to these areas. Further studies will include larger populations and evaluate mobile refraction devices to increase ease and reach of glasses provision.
This abstract was presented at the 2022 ARVO Annual Meeting, held in Denver, CO, May 1-4, 2022, and virtually.
Figure 1. Ease of obtaining glasses (N=33), improvement in vision and satisfaction with glasses (N=25).
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