Background. There are limited research and substantial uncertainty about the level of eye care utilization in the United States. Objectives. Our study estimated eye care utilization using, to our knowledge, every known nationally representative, publicly available database with information on office-based optometry or ophthalmology services.
Research Design. We analyzed the following national databases to estimate eye care utilization: the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS), National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), Joint Canada/US Survey of Health (JCUSH), Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), and the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NAMCS). Subjects. US adults aged 18 and older. Measures. Self-reported utilization of eye care services.
Results. The weighted number of adults seeing or talking with any eye doctor ranges from 87.9 million to 99.5 million, and the number of visits annually ranges from 72.9 million to 142.6 million. There were an estimated 17.2 million optometry visits and 55.8 million ophthalmology visits. Conclusions. The definitions and estimates of eye care services vary widely across national databases, leading to substantial differences in national estimates of eye care utilization.