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It is crucial that patients with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) are diagnosed early and receive continuous medical care. If not managed adequately, the outcome for patients with AMD is likely poor, and the disease may progress to wet AMD. Researchers sought to determine what socioeconomic barriers may be to blame for patients who are not receiving adequate treatment.

The data sampled from The National Health Interview Survey included 3,586 participants from 2002 and 3,104 participants from 2008. Participants were over 40 and suffered from chronic eye diseases, including AMD, cataracts, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy. Information collected revealed participants’ use of eye care services in relation to their socioeconomic position, which was measured by the poverty-income ratio (PIR) and educational attainment.

In the 2002 data sample, only 62.7% of participants with a PIR of less than 1.50 reported visiting an eye care professional in the last 12 months (vs. 80.1% for a PIR of at least 5). Similarly, only 62.9% of participants who had not attained a high school diploma reported seeking regular eye care (vs. 80.8% for those who had at least a college education).

The 2008 data showed a similar pattern, revealing significant differences in eye treatment are related to low educational attainment and participant PIR.

From these data, we can conclude that great strides must be made to narrow this gap in patients who do not seek eye care services due to socioeconomic barriers. A call to action is made for healthcare professionals to educate patients on the importance of regular eye care services and provide financial resources for those who live in poverty [1].

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[1] Zhang, X., Beckles, G. L., Chou, C. F., Saaddine, J. B., Wilson, M. R., Lee, P. P., Parvathy, N., Ryskulova, A., & Geiss, L. S. (2013). Socioeconomic Disparity in Use of Eye Care Services Among US Adults With Age-Related Eye Diseases. JAMA Ophthalmology, 131(9), 1198. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2013.4694