How Social Determinants Could Impact Your Vision Health

Effective eye care requires understanding the social needs of patients. These social determinants are conditions in an individual’s environment that affect health outcomes. They can also have an effect on vision health in many cases. For example, people living with diabetes are more likely to develop diabetic retinopathy, a serious complication of the disease. These social determinants can help eye care providers better serve patients with diabetes and improve their sight health.

Inequalities In Vision Care

Vision care is an important health care service, but many Americans lack access to it. Access to care has been a problem for many people of low income and minorities, resulting in lower rates for eye care. Nearly half of Americans don’t have vision insurance. Most policies cover an annual eye exam and glasses, but the cost can become a barrier to proper eye care. Eyedrops are another barrier to vision care. Oversized eyedrops can be costly and cause wasted medication.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recently published a report titled “Making Eye Health a Public Health Imperative.” It outlines a framework that guides action among various stakeholders to promote health equity across the United States. The framework outlines the importance of vision screening as an integral part of improving access to eye care for low-income individuals.

Vision And The Impact Of Social Determinants

Social determinants are factors that have an impact on health and affect every aspect of a person’s life, including vision. These factors include personal identity, income, and the environment in which you live. Understanding these factors and their impact on vision health is crucial to preventing vision loss and other health issues.

A thorough understanding of the social determinants of vision health is essential for effective eye care delivery. For example, poor vision is associated with high rates of microvascular complications and diabetic retinopathy. Understanding these factors will help clinicians develop effective care plans and deliver quality care. For example, addressing the needs of patients with diabetes may help them avoid costly vision correction.

Advocacy and community outreach are key to addressing these social determinants of vision health. As an ophthalmologist you have the power and responsibility to advocate for policies that support patients in achieving their health goals. You can advocate for local housing and expand health care coverage. You can also encourage investment in research to identify and measure health outcomes related social determinants of wellbeing. This research can help you tailor vision programs to meet the needs of your community.

Barriers To Care For People With Impaired Vision

It is crucial to identify and remove barriers to vision health care access as the incidence of vision loss continues to increase. While little research exists on this issue, a recent report by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine provides insights into the barriers that can negatively impact access to vision care. The report examines data collected during a vision screening program in Oregon. It found that participants had a variety of barriers to care for their vision, including age, race, and diabetes.

Despite the availability of effective treatments, the prevalence of depression and anxiety among visually impaired adults is high. Unfortunately, only half of these people receive mental health support. This is in large part due to lack of awareness of signs and symptoms of depression and anxiety. However, the importance of understanding mental health among those with impaired vision cannot be understated.

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