Untreated refractive error contributes to the racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic disparities in visual function of adolescent children in the US.
To describe patterns in vision testing as a function of age among US adolescents and identify sociodemographic factors associated with vision testing.
DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS
This cross-sectional study used data from the National Survey of Children's Health (2018-2019), a nationally representative survey of the noninstitutionalized US pediatric population. A total of 24 752 adolescent children (aged 12 to <18 years) were included. Data were analyzed from March 22 to August 11, 2023.
MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES
The primary outcome was the caregiver report of vision testing within the last 12 months. Linear regression was used to describe the patterns in reported vision testing as a function of participant age. Logistic regression was used to describe the association of sociodemographic factors with the report of vision testing in each setting.
Among 24 752 adolescents, the median (IQR) age was 14 (13-16) years; 12 918 (weighted, 51%) were male. Vision testing in any setting within the previous year was reported by caregivers of 18 621 adolescents (weighted, 74%). Vision testing was reported to have occurred at an eye clinic in 13 323 participants (weighted, 51%), at a primary care clinic in 5230 participants (weighted, 22%), at a school in 2594 participants (weighted, 11%), and at a health center in 635 participants (weighted, 4%). The percentage of adolescents reported to have vision tested decreased with age (-1.3% per year; 95% CI, -2.5% to 0% per year) due to a decrease in testing in primary care and school settings. After adjusting for age and sex, there were lower odds of vision testing reported for adolescents who were uninsured vs insured (adjusted odds ratio [AOR], 0.81; 95% CI, 0.76-0.87), had caregivers with less than vs greater than high school education (AOR, 0.89; 95% CI, 0.84-0.95), and were from a family born outside vs inside the US (AOR, 0.90; 95% CI, 0.82-0.98).
CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE
In this cross-sectional study, vision testing in adolescents decreased as a function of age due to fewer reported tests performed in primary care and school-based settings. Relative to children in socioeconomically advantaged families, those from disadvantaged families were less likely to report receiving vision testing in clinical settings. Efforts to expand the role of school-based vision testing for older adolescents from disadvantaged backgrounds may enable opportunities to address disparities in untreated refractive error.