Blindness, visual impairment and the problem of uncorrected refractive error in a Mexican-American population: Proyecto VER

Beatriz Muñoz, Sheila K. West, Jorge Rodriguez, Rosario Sanchez, Aimee T. Broman, Robert Snyder, Ronald Klein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


PURPOSE. To report the prevalence of blindness and visual impairment and the contribution of uncorrected refractive error to visual loss, in a population-based sample of Mexican Americans aged 40 and older. METHODS. Proyecto VER is a population-based study of blindness and visual impairment in Mexican Americans in Arizona. Block groups in Tucson and Nogales were randomly selected with probability proportional to the size of the Mexican-American population aged 40 and older. Participants had a complete ophthalmic evaluation, including assessment of presenting and best corrected visual acuity using standardized procedures. Those with presenting visual acuity worse than 20/30 had refraction to determine best corrected vision. A home questionnaire and a clinic examination provided data on education, perception of visual impairment, income, and acculturation. RESULTS. The prevalence of presenting visual acuity worse than 20/40 was 8.2%, with uncorrected refractive error accounting for 73% of the impaired acuity. In multivariate models comparing those who improved two or more lines on the acuity chart with proper refraction with those who had adequate optical correction, uncorrected refractive error showed a strong association with age, less than 13 years of education (odds ratio [OR] 1.6, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.5-2.0), low acculturation index (OR 1.3, CI 1.1-1.3), lack of insurance coverage (OR 1.4, CI 1.1-1.7), and not having seen an eye-care provider in the past 2 years (OR 2.5, CI 2.1-3.0). Prevalence of best corrected acuity worse than 20/40 increased from 0.3% in those aged 40 to 49 years to 18% in those aged 80 years or more. CONCLUSIONS. Visual loss in this Mexican-American population is higher than has been reported in whites and is comparable to that in African Americans. Almost three quarters of those with visual acuity impairment would improve with optical correction. Socioeconomic factors that are probable markers of limited access to health care services were associated with uncorrected refractive error. These data suggest that education programs and interventions to improve access to eye care could significantly decrease the burden of visual loss among Mexican Americans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)608-614
Number of pages7
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 11 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

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