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Receipt of Specialty Eye Care by Children

      Background.—No nationally representative data are available regarding use of eye care services by children.
      Objectives.—To determine the proportion of children who receive specialty eye care and to evaluate the association of such care with age and other factors associated with health care utilization.
      Methods.—We used the 2000 National Health Interview Survey to estimate the proportion of nonblind children who received eye care in the preceding 12 months. The association between eye care and the factors of interest among children aged 6–17 years was measured through adjusted bivariate comparisons and logistic regression modeling.
      Results.—Eye care was received in the preceding 12 months by an estimated 7.3% (95% confidence interval [CI] 6.0–8.6) of the 22.8 million children aged 0–5 years and 24.8% (95% CI 23.5–26.2) of the 48.5 million children aged 6–17 years. Among children aged 6–17 years, girls had 29% greater odds than boys to have received eye care (P = .001). Among children <200% of the federal poverty level, those with public health insurance had greater odds of receiving eye care than did uninsured children or those with private health insurance (P < .001). Among children >200% of the federal poverty level, uninsured children had lower odds than did children with public or private health insurance (P < .004) to receive eye care. Well-child care was associated with increased eye care utilization among children aged 12–14 years (P < .001).
      Conclusions.—Receipt of specialty eye care is common and increases with age. However, there are marked variations among school-aged children. Future studies should address the causes and effects of these findings.

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