The Utility of Recycled Eyeglasses: A Pilot Study at the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services
Keywords:visual acuity, low vision, refractive error development
Background:The cost of eyeglasses is variably covered by medical insurance and thus is a significant barrier for patients in lower socioeconomic classes. We wanted to evaluate the efficacy of Recycle Vision (RV) at LAC+USC Medical Center, a monthly clinic run by volunteer medical students that provides free donated eyeglasses.
Methods:A convenience sample of 30 patients were surveyed from August 1, 2019 to December 31, 2019. Patients’ prescriptions were matched with available eyeglasses based on spherical equivalent and axis of astigmatism using Winglasses software algorithm; patients selected glasses from these options based on subjective improvement of vision. All participants consented to a phone follow-up survey 1 month after initial visit to gauge satisfaction with glasses and rate difficulty in completing daily activities pre- and post-RV visit on a scale of 1 to 5 (5 being the greatest), with a 100% response rate.
Results:Of the 30 study participants, 90% received eyeglasses from RV, with reported improvement in ease of daily activities of 3.96. 67% of respondents stated that if RV clinic did not exist, they would not have obtained glasses elsewhere; cost was the most commonly (70%) cited barrier. Upon follow-up, average likelihood of patients referring friends/family to RV was 4.07 (SD 1.14).
Conclusion:The majority of RV patients received free eyeglasses and had subsequent improvement in their quality of life. This pilot study demonstrates that programs offering free eyeglasses can effectively correct refractive error and can offer a practical public health solution to improve functionality for underserved populations.
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