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Stephanie Choi, AB; Brian C. Stagg, MD; Joshua R. Ehrlich, MD, MPH

Disparities in Low-Vision Device Use Among Older US Medicare Recipients

publication date
December 2018
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Importance:  Low-vision assistive devices are not covered by Medicare and many private insurers, although there is evidence that they can improve functioning and quality of life. Little is known about whether sociodemographic disparities exist in the use of low-vision services by Medicare beneficiaries.

Objective: To determine if sociodemographic disparities exist in the use of low-vision services by Medicare beneficiaries.

Design, Setting, and Participants: Cross-sectional population-based survey. The National Health Interview Survey is an annually administered nationally representative US survey. Data used in this study were from the 2002, 2008, and 2016 National Health Interview Survey vision supplement. Participants who were Medicare beneficiaries 65 years and older with self-reported vision impairment were included.

Main Outcomes and Measures: Multivariable logistic regression was performed to evaluate if sociodemographic or economic factors were associated with self-reported use of low-vision devices or low-vision rehabilitation among Medicare beneficiaries 65 years and older who self-reported vision impairment.


Results: There were 3058 participants included in the study. The survey weighted proportion of participants who were men was 37.9% (95% CI, 35.8%-40.0%), while 79.1% (95% CI, 77.2%-80.9%) were non-Hispanic white, 10.2% (95% CI, 9.0%-11.5%) were non-Hispanic black, 6.7% (95% CI, 5.6%-8.1%) were Hispanic, and 4.0% (95% CI, 3.2%-5.0%) identified with another race/ethnicity. The weighted proportion who reported using low-vison devices and low-vision rehabilitation were 26.1% (95% CI, 24.2%-28.1%) and 3.5% (95% CI, 2.8%-4.3%), respectively. In a model adjusted for ocular diagnoses, Hispanic individuals (odds ratio, 0.61; 95% CI, 0.39-0.97) and individuals from other races/ethnicities (odds ratio, 0.39; 95% CI, 0.19-0.80), but not black individuals, were significantly less likely to report using low-vision devices than white individuals. In the model that was not adjusted for ocular diagnoses, black individuals (odds ratio, 0.73; 95% CI, 0.54-0.99) were also significantly less likely to report using low-vision devices. There were no significant racial/ethnic disparities for reported use of low-vision rehabilitation.

Conclusions and Relevance: Additional research is needed to clarify the association between sociodemographics and use of low-vision services in the Medicare population. However, policy makers could consider expanding Medicare coverage to include low-vision devices in an effort to address significant disparities in the use of this evidence-based intervention.


I haven't actually used the optometrist side, so my review is limited to the vision therapy offered.  This office was recommended by my occupational therapist for the treatment of my double vision following a stroke.

Claire A.

Love this location. I had a brain injury accident from day one one. All the team make you feel you still important and hope in the horizon after when the medical system fell you miserably. Dr. Ikeda very professional and very understanding about your issue. Two tombs up.

Jim K.

My husband and I were immediately impressed with Dr Ikeda. I was hit by a car while cycling which caused broken bones and three brain injuries. The brain injuries caused double vision. Dr. Ikeda examined my eyes and got me started on vision therapy with his occupational therapist who specializes in vision therapy.  She (Chris) is absolutely great.  I am impressed with the array of tools used to help recover my binocular vision.  I am doing things I never thought were possible (balance boards etc).  Chris pushes me and keeps me motivated. I really enjoy my sessions with her.  The office staff is always friendly and they have a wonderful appointment reminder tool that makes it easy to keep my calendar up to date. I am happy the rehab center at Little Co. of Mary recommended them!!

Teresa S.

The Vision Therapy is handled in a separate office through a different door from the shared waiting room. Chris, the vision therapist, has a wide and varied assortment of tools, equipment and resources to best evaluate and treat most vision issues. After just a few visits, my double vision became easier to control, using exercises developed during the therapy process. It was time well-spent.

Joe M.

I have been coming here since I can remember. I love it here. The staff is so amazing and nice. They explain everything they gonna do and never make you feel rushed. Dr. Ikeda has always been my doctor and I would never want another one. He is the doctor for my whole family and is always asking how everyone is doing. I am also so crazy about picking out my frames and have to try so many and each person who helps me take the time and lets me try them all on. I would never want to go anywhere else! I definitely would recommend this office to anyone looking for a great eye doctor.

Kayla W.

This is not for the eye exam but for the frames selection portion. I brought my prescription from Kaiser here with my VSP insurance. The reception staff was very polite and professional.  Manny helped me to pick out frames and explain my coverage.  Very helpful and patient not like the individual at the other place I rated here on Yelp.  I was running late and he still helped me and was not bothered at all.  I am so glad I came here ..........very pleased.

Very professional staff and pleasant.

Daniel G.
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