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This paper examines adaptive device use among two samples of U.S. adults aged 40 years and older with agerelated macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma or cataracts from the 2008 and 2016 waves of the nationally-representative cross-sectional National Health Interview Survey (n=2875 and n=6233 respectively). Individuals who replied affirmatively to the question, “do you use any adaptive devices such as telescopic or other prescriptive lenses, magnifiers, large print or talking materials, CCTV, white cane or guide dogs?” were defined as adaptive device users. Descriptive statistics and logistic regression models of adaptive device use were estimated. The main regression models used 2008 data and included explanatory variables for vision-related limitations, other functional limitations, sociodemographic characteristics and the local availability of ophthalmologists and optometrists. 6.1% of the 2008 sample and 4.2% of the 2016 sample used adaptive devices, these percentages were significantly different. 31.4% of the 2008 sample and 24.0% of 2016 sample with multiple vision-related limitations used adaptive devices, these percentages were not significantly different. Based on previous research, adaptive device use among the subgroups with multiple vision-related limitations would be expected to improve functional ability. In the regression models, the likelihood of adaptive device use increased significantly with the number of vision-related limitations, family income and local ophthalmologist availability. The regression results provide evidence of socioeconomic and geographic disparities in adaptive device use in the U.S. Together the descriptive statistics and regression results suggest that public health strategies to increase access to adaptive devices are needed.


This article was originally published in Preventive Medicine Reports, available at DOI: 10.1016/j.pmedr.2018.10.005.

This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (



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