Educating older African Americans about the preventive importance of routine comprehensive eye care

Academic Article


  • Older African Americans have higher rates of vision impairment and lower utilization rates of comprehensive eye care, compared to Caucasians. InCHARGE® is an eye health education program for this population that promotes prevention through the annual, dilated comprehensive eye examination. This study, using a pre-/postdesign, evaluated whether InCHARGE imparted knowledge about prevention and strategies for reducing barriers to care. The program was presented to 85 older African Americans in 5 senior centers in Montgomery, AL. Changes in attitudes about annual eye care were assessed by a questionnaire before and 3 months after InCHARGE. At baseline, most (>85%) responded it would not be difficult for them to find an ophthalmologist or optometrist, and the exam cost was not a problem. Twenty-five percent reported problems finding transportation to the doctor and covering the eyeglasses cost. Forty-four percent reported not having an eye exam in the past year; 13% reported not having one within 2 years. Three months after InCHARGE, those who reported that they could find a way to get to the doctor increased (χ2= 3.8, p=0.04). After InCHARGE, 72% said they either had received or scheduled an eye exam. Responses to a question about what was learned from InCHARGE indicated that the InCHARGE's key messages about comprehensive eye care were successfully imparted to most. This study suggests that older African Americans in the urban south have positive attitudes about eye care, even before an eye health education presentation. Following InCHARGE, they identified transportation problems less frequently as a barrier, indicated that they learned InCHARGE's key message and had plans for seeking routine, preventive eye care. A next step is to verify through medical record review the extent to which the high rates of self-reported eye care utilization reflect behavior.
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 15360879
  • Author List

  • Owsley C; McGwin G; Stalvey BT; Weston J; Searcey K; Girkin CA
  • Start Page

  • 1089
  • End Page

  • 1095
  • Volume

  • 100
  • Issue

  • 9