Open Access Research article

Sociodemographic Correlates of Eye Care Provider Visits in the 2006–2009 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey

Alberto J Caban-Martinez1*, Evelyn P Davila1, Byron L Lam2, Kristopher L Arheart1, Kathryn E McCollister1, Cristina A Fernandez1, Manuel A Ocasio1 and David J Lee1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Epidemiology & Public Health, University of Miami, Miller School of Medicine, Clinical Research Building, Room 1075, 1120 N.W. 14th Street, 10th Floor (R-669), Miami, FL, 33136, USA

2 Department of Ophthalmology, Miller School of Medicine, University of Miami, Miami, FL, USA

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BMC Research Notes 2012, 5:253  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-5-253

Published: 23 May 2012



Research has suggested that adults 40 years old and over are not following eye care visit recommendations. In the United States, the proportion of older adults is expected to increase drastically in the coming years. This has important implications for population ocular disease burden, given the relationship between older age and the development of many ocular diseases and conditions. Understanding individual level determinants of vision health could support the development of tailored vision health campaigns and interventions among our growing older population. Thus, we assessed correlates of eye care visits among participants of the Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) survey. We pooled and analyzed 2006–2009 BRFSS data from 16 States (N = 118,075). We assessed for the proportion of survey respondents 40 years of age and older reporting having visited an eye care provider within the past two years, two or more years ago, or never by socio-demographic characteristics.


Nearly 80% of respondents reported an eye care visit within the previous two years. Using the ‘never visits’ as the referent category, the groups with greater odds of having an ocular visit within the past two years included those: greater than 70 years of age (OR = 6.8 [95% confidence interval = 3.7–12.6]), with college degree (5.2[3.0–8.8]), reporting an eye disease, (4.74[1.1–21.2]), diagnosed with diabetes (3.5[1.7–7.5]), of female gender (2.9[2.1–3.9]), with general health insurance (2.7[1.8–3.9]), with eye provider insurance coverage (2.1[1.5–3.0]), with high blood pressure (1.5[1.1–2.2]), and with moderate to extreme near vision difficulties (1.42[1.11–2.08]).


We found significant variation by socio-demographic characteristics and some variation in state-level estimates in this study. The present findings suggest that there remains compliance gaps of screening guidelines among select socio-demographic sub-groups, as well as provide evidence and support to the CDC’s Vision Health Initiative. This data further suggests that there remains a need for ocular educational campaigns in select socio-demographic subgroups and possibly policy changes to enhance insurance coverage.

Vision Health; Eye Care; Older Adults; Epidemiology; National Survey