Visual impairment and eye care among Alaska Native people.


PURPOSE: To estimate the prevalence of visual impairment, eye disease and eye care in the Alaska Native (AN) population, by demographic and socioeconomic factors. METHODS: Population-based cross-sectional study of 3,793 AN adults aged 18-94 years enrolled in the Education and Research Towards Health (EARTH) Study from March 2004-March 2006. Data on self-reported visual impairment, cataract, glaucoma, diabetic eye disease and previous dilated eye examinations were collected using audio computer-assisted self-administered questionnaires. RESULTS: The unadjusted prevalence of self-reported visual impairment was 8.7% (95% confidence interval (CI): 7.9-9.7), cataract 5.9% (95% CI: 5.2-6.7), glaucoma 2.5% (95% CI: 2.0-3.0) and diabetic eye disease 1.3% (95% CI: 0.9-1.7). In all cases, age-sex adjusted prevalence estimates for the AN population were greater than available estimates for the general U.S. population. Prevalence of visual impairment and each eye disease increased with age (P < 0.01). Additional factors associated with visual impairment were education and annual household income. Overall, 70.0% (95% CI: 68.5-71.6) of participants reported a dilated eye examination within the previous two years. Dilated eye examination within the previous two years was associated with increasing age (P < 0.001). However, men and participants with lower formal education were less likely to report recent dilated eye examination. Among those with diabetes, only 67.7% (95% CI: 60.8-74.1) reported a dilated eye examination within the recommended previous one year. CONCLUSIONS: Self-reported visual impairment, cataract, glaucoma and diabetic eye disease are prevalent in the AN population. These data may be useful in healthcare planning and education programs.

Location Description: 

Alaska AK