Study finds disparities in eye care between Native North Americans and whites

February 18, 2022

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Woodward MA, et al. JAMA Ophthalmologyalmol. 2021; doi:10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2021.5507.

Disclosures: Hughes and Woodward report receiving grants from the Seva Foundation. Please see the study for relevant financial information from all other authors.

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According to a study published in JAMA Ophthalmology.

Maria A. Woodward

“This study raises awareness that disparity exists nationally even among people who have insurance among Indigenous groups in North America,” the study author said. Married A. Woodward, MD, MSc, says Healio/OSN.

Woodward and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional study using Medicare fee-for-service data from the Vision and Ocular Health Surveillance System to investigate ophthalmic conditions and service data among Native Americans of the North and non-Hispanic whites in the United States. included people who identified as Native American, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander.

The study identified claims for 177,100 North American Indigenous individuals and 24,438,000 non-Hispanic white individuals. Native North American individuals had a higher affection claim rate and a lower service claim rate than non-Hispanic white individuals for refractive errors (17.2 versus 11.1 and 48.3 versus 49.6, respectively; P P PP<.001>

In diabetes-related eye disease, Native North Americans had a higher claim rate (5.22 vs. 2.20; P

“Even with joint insurance coverage, [North American Native individuals] have negatively discordant eye care across most categories,” study author Kathskinny Hughes, MBA, says Healio/OSN. “We need to advocate and pass legislation to have corrective lenses for myopia, presbyopia, astigmatism, and similar conditions that arise outside the context of surgery added as a Medicare-covered benefit because they fit the definition of ‘medically necessary’.”

Hughes also called for expanded access to eye care services and ensuring adequate referral services for secondary and tertiary care.

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