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US researchers uncover disparities in access to low vision aids

Scientists have highlighted ethnic differences in whether Medicare recipients receive telescopic lenses, magnifiers, large print and talking materials

07 Sep 2018 by Selina Powell

US researchers have revealed ethnic differences in access to low vision aids among Medicare recipients.

The study, which was published in JAMA Ophthalmology, analysed nationally representative survey data from 3000 Medicare recipients aged 65 and older with a self-reported vision impairment.

Under current policy in the US, low vision rehabilitation is eligible for reimbursement but low vision devices are not.

Scientists found that white individuals were more likely to use low vision aids than those from minority ethnic groups. There was no ethnic difference in the use of low vision rehabilitation.

The authors highlighted that expansion of insurance cover has decreased racial disparities in other areas of medicine.

“If the findings from this study are confirmed, it may suggest that policy makers could consider coverage of low-vision devices under Medicare in an effort to address disparities and expand access to this evidence-based intervention,” they emphasised. 

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