To estimate prevalence and correlates of eye care utilization by means of data from the National Health Interview Survey.
Nearly 290 000 adults 18 years or older participated in the survey from 1997 through 2005. Eye care utilization was based on self-reported contact with an eye care professional in the past year. Participants were classified by level of visual impairment based on response to 2 questions. The survey and logistic regression procedures in SAS statistical software were used to compute 1997 through 2005 pooled eye care utilization rates and to identify correlates of utilization.
Overall eye care utilization rates were 58.3%, 49.6%, and 33.7%, respectively, for participants with severe, some, and no visual impairment; rates for respondents without health insurance were 35.9%, 23.8%, and 14.3%, respectively. Multivariable logistic regression analyses completed in racial/ethnic and age category subgroups indicated that no reported visual impairment, lack of health insurance, male sex, and low education were associated with low eye care utilization rates.
Interventions designed to increase eye care utilization rates in select sociodemographic subgroups are needed. Overall utilization rates may also be enhanced if progress is made toward dramatically increasing the number of Americans with health insurance.