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BMC Ophthalmol. 2014 Apr 3;14:44. doi: 10.1186/1471-2415-14-44.

A survey of Alabama eye care providers in 2010-2011.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, School of Medicine, University of Alabama at Birmingham, 115 Kracke Building, 1530 3rd Ave South, Birmingham, AL 35294-0016, USA.



State level information regarding eye care resources can provide policy makers with valuable information about availability of eye care services. The current study surveyed ophthalmologists, optometrists and vision rehabilitation providers practicing in Alabama.


Three mutually exclusive provider groups were identified, i.e., all ophthalmologists, optometrists, and vision rehabilitation providers working in Alabama in 2010. Eligible providers were contacted in 2010 and 2011 and information was requested regarding provider demographics and training, practice type and service characteristics, and patient characteristics. Descriptive statistics (e.g., means, proportions) were used to characterize provider groups by their demographic and training characteristics, practice characteristics, services provided and patients or clients served. In addition, county level figures demonstrate the numbers and per capita ophthalmologists and optometrists.


Ophthalmologists were located in 24 of Alabama's 67 counties, optometrists in 56, and 10 counties had neither an ophthalmologist nor an optometrist. Overall, 1,033 vision care professionals were identified as eligible to participate in the survey: 217 ophthalmologists, 638 optometrists, and 178 visual rehabilitation providers. Of those, 111 (51.2%) ophthalmologists, 246 (38.6%) optometrists, and 81 (45.5%) rehabilitation providers participated. Most participating ophthalmologists, optometrists, and vision rehabilitation providers identified themselves as non-Hispanic White. Ophthalmologists and optometrists estimated that 27% and 22%, respectively, of their patients had diabetes but that the proportion that adhered to eye care guidelines was 61% among ophthalmology patients and 53% among optometry patients.


A large number of Alabama communities are isolated from eye care services. Increased future demand for eye care is anticipated nationally given the aging of the population and decreasing numbers of providers; however, Alabama also has a high and growing prevalence of diabetes which will result in greater numbers at risk for diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and cataracts.

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