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Utilisation of eye care services by urban and rural Australians
  1. Jill E Keeffe,
  2. LeAnn M Weih,
  3. Cathy A McCarty,
  4. Hugh R Taylor
  1. Centre for Eye Research Australia, The University of Melbourne
  1. Correspondence to: Dr J E Keeffe, Centre for Eye Research Australia, The University of Melbourne, Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital, 32 Gisborne Street, East Melbourne 3002, Australia; jillek{at}


Aim: To investigate factors related to the use of eye care services in Australia.

Methods: Health, eye care service use, and sociodemographic data were collected in a structured interview of participants in a population based study. All participants had a standard eye examination.

Results: Men (OR 1.3 CL 1.02, 1.7), those who spoke Greek (OR 2.1 CL 1.1, 3.8) or Italian (OR 1.9 CL 1.0, 3.3), and those without private health insurance (OR 1.59 CL 1.22, 2.04) were more likely to have not used eye care services. Ophthalmology services were utilised at lower rates in rural areas (OR 0.14 CL 0.09, 0.2). Approximately 40% of participants with undercorrected refractive error, cataract, and undiagnosed glaucoma had seen either an ophthalmologist, optometrist, or both within the last year.

Conclusion: Despite the similarity in prevalence of eye disease in urban and rural areas, significant differences exist in the utilisation of eye care services. Sex, private health insurance, urban residence, and the ability to converse in English were significant factors associated with eye healthcare service use. Many participants had undiagnosed eye disease despite having seen an eye care provider in the last year.

  • vision impairment
  • health service utilisation
  • language
  • rural health
  • health insurance

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