News Briefs Archive

What a New Study Reveals About Usage of Low-Vision Devices By Minorities

Oct. 10, 2018

Older white people with low vision are more likely to use devices that can improve independence, compared to elderly people in other racial and ethnic groups, a U.S. study suggests, according to reporting by Lisa Rapaport in Reuters Health.

Medicare, the U.S. health insurance program for people over age 65, covers rehabilitative services but it doesn’t cover low-vision devices, the study team notes in JAMA Ophthalmology.

To see if this lack of coverage influences racial or ethnic differences in who gets access to the devices, researchers examined data on 3,058 older adults with low vision who were insured by Medicare. Overall, just 26 percent used low-vision devices and only 3.5 percent had vision rehabilitation.

“What we found most impressive in this study was that there were no racial or ethnic disparities in the use of vision rehabilitation, the low vision service that Medicare does cover,” senior study author Dr. Joshua Ehrlich of the Kellogg Eye Center at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor told Rapaport.

African-American people appeared to have similar odds of using low vision devices as white people. But non-white individuals from other racial and ethnic groups had 61 percent lower odds of getting the devices.

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