Access to eye care and prevalence of refractive error and eye conditions at a high school-based eye clinic in southeastern Michigan
This research analyzed data from a bi-monthly eye program run by optometrists at a high school in a poverty-affected community. A total of 429 initial student visits between February 2015 and July 2019 were examined, excluding follow-up visits. The findings showed that most students were around 14 years old, with a majority being female (55.7%), Black (59.7%), and Medicaid recipients (61.7%). A significant portion of students had previously undergone eye exams (70.2%), and many had worn glasses before (60.8%), with a quarter still wearing them. Notably, Hispanic students were less likely to have had prior eye exams and worn glasses compared to non-Hispanic students. The study revealed that Black students had worse visual acuity than White students. However, a higher percentage of Black students showed significant improvements in visual acuity. Overall, 74% of participating students received glasses, and 21 needed referrals to ophthalmologists, with 13 attending these appointments. This underscores the value of school-based eye clinics in addressing uncorrected vision problems in impoverished populations and raises concerns about racial and ethnic disparities in prior eye care utilization.