(HealthDay News) – Eye care utilization is low among primarily low-income, African-American patients with diabetes seen at a county hospital clinic, particularly among younger patients, according to a study published online Dec. 5 in JAMA Ophthalmology.

Paul A. MacLennan, PhD, from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and colleagues retrospectively examined eye care in 867 patients with diabetes mellitus (mean age, 51.8 years) seen in 2007 at a county hospital clinic primarily serving low-income non-Hispanic African-Americans. Most patients were female (61.9%), while 61.4% were indigent and 76.2% were non-Hispanic African-American.

The researchers found that the eye care utilization rate was 33.2% within one year and 45% within two years. Eye care utilization rates were significantly lower for younger patients (19–39 years old) compared with older patients (≥65 years) within one year (adjusted rate ratio, 0.48) and two years (adjusted rate ratio, 0.61).

“In summary, the current findings indicate that patients with diabetes seen in the internal medicine clinic of a large public safety net hospital have lower eye care utilization rates than national estimates, with rates similar to those reported by others for minority populations with diabetes in urban areas,” MacLennan and colleagues write.

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