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Visual impairment and age-related eye diseases in Florida: Findings from 2006 Behavioral Risk Factors Surveillance System (BRFSS) in Nine states

Authors Li Y, Fan AZ, Balluz LS

Published 13 September 2009 Volume 2009:2 Pages 65—71


Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Yan Li, Amy Z Fan, Lina S Balluz

Behavioral Surveillance Branch, Division of Adult and Community Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA, USA

Purpose: To compare the prevalence of age-related eye disease, visual impairment, and eye care service utilization among adults aged 65 and older in Florida with eight other states.

Methods: In 2006, nine states conducted the visual impairment and access to eye care module using the Behavioral Risk Factors Surveillance System (BRFSS) survey (N = 62,750). Visual impairment was based on self-reported ability to see distant and near objects. Age-related eye diseases including cataract, glaucoma, macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy were self-reported with diagnosis confirmed by a health care professional. Eye care visit or examination was assessed by whether a respondent reported an eye visit or dilated eye examination within the past year.

Results: The estimated prevalence of distant and near visual impairment was lower in Florida than in the eight other states (distant: 11.5% vs 15.2%, P < 0.001; near: 22.3% vs 28.7%, P < 0.001). There was no significant difference with the prevalence of age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy between these two groups. The prevalence of glaucoma and cataract was higher in Florida. The rates of eye care visits (80.5% vs 74.8%, P < 0.01) and dilated eye examinations (74.7% vs 64.0%, P < 0.01) were higher in Florida. After controlling for demographic variables, chronic conditions, insurance, and eye examination, results for elderly in Florida continued to demonstrate less visually impaired.

Conclusion: Fewer elderly in Florida reported visual impairment in spite of comparable or higher prevalence of age-related eye diseases with other states. Health care utilization and health insurance for eye care coverage were also higher in Florida, which may account for the phenomena. More research is needed to investigate the association.

Keywords: visual impairment, age-related eye disease, eye care service utilization, health insurance, BRFSS

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