InsightImproving Access to and Quality of Eye Care in an At-Risk, Underserved Population (1U58DP002651)

The Innovative Network for Sight Research (INSIGHT) is a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-funded collaborative vision research network of investigators at the Johns Hopkins University, University of Alabama at Birmingham, University of Miami, and Wills Eye Institute. INSIGHT’s focus is to assess and evaluate system-level and individual-level factors that impact access to, and the quality of eye care.

Site-specific and network studies will investigate barriers and enablers to the delivery of efficacious and cost-effective eye care that prevent vision loss and promote eye health. The focus of our INSIGHT center at UAB is on a high-risk yet underserved adult population, namely African Americans residing in Jefferson County, Alabama.

Rates of vision impairment and eye disease among African Americans are two times higher than those of whites, especially glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy. The public health challenge is that if these conditions had been detected early, much of this disease and vision impairment would be reversible and preventable with currently available ophthalmic treatments.

We have a unique resource to address this issue, through a partnership between the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the Cooper Green Jefferson Health System. This health system serves residents of Jefferson County regardless of their ability to pay. About 80% of adults seen at the Cooper Green Jefferson Health System clinics are African American; 70% have no health insurance whatsoever.

Over 60% have diagnoses of glaucoma and/or diabetes. Using the health system’s administrative database and studies involving individual patients in the clinics, our research center will provide system- and individual-level information on how to improve access to and quality of eye care for this underserved population.

Studies focus on diabetic eye care, glaucoma, and persons with irreversible vision impairment. Our center also participates in network-wide studies to be designed collaboratively with other INSIGHT centers and CDC.