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Prev Med. 2015 Apr;73:30-6. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2015.01.008. Epub 2015 Jan 17.

The geographic distribution of eye care providers in the United States: Implications for a national strategy to improve vision health.

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School of Public Affairs, Baruch College - City University of New York, 17 Lexington Avenue, Box D-901, New York, NY 10010, United States. Electronic address:



To describe the patterns of local eye care provider availability in the US.


Data from 2011 on the number of ophthalmologists and optometrists in each of the 3143 counties in the US were drawn from the Area Health Resources File. Population-weighted quartiles of the county-level number of ophthalmologists per capita and the county-level number of optometrists per capita were defined. Descriptive statistics were calculated and a cross tabulation of quartiles of ophthalmologist availability and quartiles of optometrist availability was conducted for all the counties in the US and for the set of counties in each region of the US.


24.0% of US counties had no ophthalmologists or optometrists. 60.7% of counties in the US were in one of the lower two quartiles of both ophthalmologist availability and optometrist availability, and 24.1% of counties were in one of the lower two quartiles of ophthalmologist availability but in one of the upper two quartiles of optometrist availability.


Public health interventions that are effective in a context of limited local eye care provider availability or that are able to leverage optometrist availability effectively in areas with limited ophthalmologist availability could be of widespread use in the US.


Ophthalmology; Optometry; Public health; United States; Vision

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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