A Review of the Prevalence of Ophthalmologic Diseases in Native American Populations

Alyssa M. Miller, Manjot K. Gill*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


PURPOSE: Compared with the general population in North America, Native American/American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) populations experience a disparate prevalence of eye diseases. Visual impairment is a barrier to communication, interferes with academic and social success, and decreases overall quality of life. The prevalence of ocular pathology could serve as an indicator of health and social disparities. Therefore, the objective of this research was to perform a thorough review comparing the prevalence of common ophthalmological pathologies between AI/AN and non-AI/AN individuals in North America. DESIGN: Retrospective, cross-sectional study. METHODS: A total of 57 articles were retrieved and reviewed, and 14 met the criteria outlined for inclusion. These articles were retrieved from PubMed, MEDLINE, and ISI Web of Knowledge. Only studies that were peer reviewed in the last 25 years and reported on the prevalence of eye diseases in AI/AN compared with a non-AI/AN population met criteria. RESULTS: Rates of retinopathy, cataracts, visual impairment, and blindness were clearly higher for AI/AN compared with non-AI/AN counterparts. Although rates of macular degeneration and glaucoma were similar between AI/AN and non-AI/AN populations, the treatment rates were lower and associated with poorer outcomes in AI/AN individuals. CONCLUSIONS: There are considerable inequities in the prevalence and treatment rates of ophthalmologic conditions in AI/AN individuals. A likely explanation is the barrier of lack of access to adequate health and eye care. Because of substantial underinsurance and geographic variability, attention needs to be brought to expanding eye care access to AI/AN communities. The results are subject to the availability of appropriate technology, health literacy, and language.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)54-61
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican journal of ophthalmology
StatePublished - Oct 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


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