Eye exams are a part of comprehensive medical care. Withholding them from nursing home patients constitutes neglect. A new study published in the Archives of Ophthalmology shows that despite this fact, many residents are going without this essential care. The study was conducted in 17 Alabama nursing homes and involved nearly 400 residents. Results demonstrated that two-thirds of patients had no reference to eye exams listed in their medical charts, despite the fact that 90% had adequate health insurance coverage. Researchers believe that long-term care staff may view concerns regarding sight as relatively unimportant in residents with medical conditions such as dementia. Fifty-seven percent of the patients in the study exhibited vision problems — 15 times the normal adult rate. When interviewed regarding their last eye exam, 28% of residents said their last exam had occurred the previous year, 20% reported that they had gone more than two years without an exam, and one-third couldn’t recall the last time their eyes were examined.
Three-quarters of the residents suffered from binocular contrast sensitivity, a condition that makes it difficult to discern the boundaries of object, and which could potentially contribute to personal injuries.
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