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U.S. Optometrists' Reported Practices and Perceived Barriers for Low Vision Care for Mild Visual Loss.

  • Author(s): Malkin, Alexis G
  • Ross, Nicole C
  • Chan, Tiffany L
  • Protosow, Kristin
  • Bittner, Ava K
  • et al.
Abstract

Significance

Identification of modifiable barriers to low vision rehabilitation (LVR) can inform efforts to improve practice management of patients with low vision (LV), through, for example, targeted educational programs for optometrists who do not practice LVR.

Purpose

Mild vision loss (20/25 to 20/70) is increasing in prevalence among the aging population, yet it is unclear whether near-reading complaints (the highest presenting chief complaint) are being addressed. Studies of LVR provision by U.S. optometrists are currently lacking. This study elucidated self-reported optometric practice patterns for patients with mild vision loss.

Methods

Anonymous surveys were completed by 229 actively practicing optometrists across the United States. The survey inquired about the frequency of providing LVR for mild vision loss patients and the top barriers that prevent them from offering LVR management (including optical aids or referral).

Results

Compared with those moderately actively practicing LVR, twice as many (2.08×) practitioners who do not practice any LVR reported that they never prescribe near-reading add power of 4 D or greater for mild vision loss (P < .001). Among those who do not practice LVR, 39 and 11% indicated that they never prescribe any LVR management strategies for patients with visual acuity of 20/25 to 20/40 and 20/50 to 20/70, respectively. The two most commonly reported barriers to LVR indicated by about half of respondents were "cost of the LV exam and/or devices" and that "patients are not interested or would not go to an LV exam." Nearly a third of providers reported that "it is not feasible to stock magnifiers in office."

Conclusions

A sizable group of non-LVR providers in the United States may not be addressing the near-vision needs of patients with mild vision loss. Several of the reported top barriers are potentially modifiable through the development of targeted educational programs for providers.

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