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Diabetes Care. 2014;37(5):1321-8. doi: 10.2337/dc13-1038. Epub 2014 Feb 26.

Racial disparity of eye examinations among the U.S. working-age population with diabetes: 2002-2009.

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  • 1Corresponding author: Lizheng Shi,



Diabetes care differs across racial and ethnic groups. This study aimed to assess the racial disparity of eye examinations among U.S. adults with diabetes.


Working-age adults (age 18-64 years) with diabetes were studied using data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey Household Component (2002-2009) including the Diabetes Care Survey. Racial and ethnic groups were classified as non-Hispanic whites and minorities. People reporting one or more dilated eye examination were considered to have received an eye examination in a particular year. Eye examination rates were compared between racial/ethnic groups for each year, and were weighted to national estimates. Multivariate adjusted odds ratios (aORs) and 95% CIs for racial/ethnic difference were assessed annually using logistic regression models. Other influencing factors associated with eye examination were also explored.


Whites had consistently higher unadjusted eye examination rates than minority populations across all 8 years. The unadjusted rates increased from 56% in 2002 to 59% in 2009 among whites, while the rates in minorities decreased from 56% in 2002 to 49% in 2009. The largest significant racial gap of 15% was observed in 2008, followed by 11%, 10%, and 7% in 2006, 2009, and 2005, respectively (P < 0.05). Minorities were less likely to receive eye examination (2006: aOR 0.75 [95% CI 0.57-0.99]; 2008: 0.61 [0.45-0.84]).


The racial/ethnic differences in eye examinations for patients with diabetes have persisted over the last decade. National programs to improve screening and monitoring of diabetic retinopathy are needed to target minority populations.

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