In the first national study of children's use of eye care services in 30 years, the researchers find that about a quarter of all children wear glasses or other corrective lenses, and that about the same proportion had seen an eye care specialist in the last year.
But when the researchers looked further, they found some clear disparities in level of vision care and correction among school-aged children according to gender, race, insurance status and family income. They will outline their results in a pair of presentations on May 5 at the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting here.
"Even though vision problems are some of the most common chronic health conditions affecting children, there's been very little research on their prevalence, diagnosis and treatment," says Alex Kemper, M.D., M.P.H., M.S., an assistant professor and member of the U-M Health System's Child Health Evaluation and Research team. "These data show that while a large number of children are getting vision care, there are clear differences in care along racial and economic lines."
The results, he notes, mean doctors, parents and schools need to do better at screening all children for vision problems, making sure they get referred for eye care, and finding ways to overcome economic, social and cultural barriers to good vision.
Kemper and his colleagues performed their research using two federal databases containing the answers of thousands of parents to in-depth, in-person interviews -- allowing extrapolation to the national population. The data included information on children's age, gender race, insurance status, family i
Contact: Kara Gavin
University of Michigan Health System