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Eye care utilization in Newfoundland and Labrador: Access barriers and vision health outcomes

TitleEye care utilization in Newfoundland and Labrador: Access barriers and vision health outcomes
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsLee, E. Y., Cui K., Trope G. E., Buys Y. M., Chan C. H., Thavorn K., and Jin Y-P.
JournalCanadian Journal of Ophthalmology
VolumeePub ahead of print

Objective Our prior study revealed significantly lower use of eye care providers in Newfoundland and Labrador (NFLD). This study reports factors associated with this low use and related vision health outcomes. Design Cross-sectional survey. Participants A total of 14 925 Caucasian respondents to the Canadian Community Health Survey - Healthy Aging 2008/2009 aged =>65 years. Methods Univariate and multivariate analyses were performed using self-reported survey data. Results NFLD, along with 3 other provinces, does not insure seniors for routine eye examinations. Among seniors without self-reported glaucoma, cataracts, and diabetes, the use of eye care providers in NFLD (36.3%) is the lowest compared with provinces with (50.7%, p 0.05) government-insured eye examinations. Among seniors with known eye disease insured for eye care in all provinces, eye care utilisation in NFLD (63.1%) is still the lowest across all provinces (69.4%-71.3%, p > 0.05). Compared with the national average, NFLD seniors have significantly higher proportions of low income (61.7% vs 47.4%), no postsecondary education (53.6% vs 42.2%), and rural residency (40.6% vs 18.9%). These factors are all associated with low levels of eye care utilisation. Compared with insured provinces, NFLD has a significantly lower prevalence of self-reported cataracts (16.7% vs 23.1) and glaucoma (3.8% vs 7.0%), and a slightly higher prevalence of presenting visual impairment (4.0% vs 3.5%). Conclusions Lack of government insurance, low socioeconomic status, and living in nonurbanised areas all contribute to the underutilisation of eye care providers in NFLD. This underutilisation appears to be associated with reduced detection of eye diseases.

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