Objective: To examine diabetic retinopathy, dilated eye examination, and eye care education among African Americans before and after a community-level public health intervention.
Methods: We analyzed data from Project DIRECT (Diabetes Interventions Reaching and Educating Communities Together) participants with self-reported diabetes (617 in 1996-1997 and 672 in 2003-2004) in Raleigh (intervention community) and Greensboro (comparison community), North Carolina. All analyses were weighted to adjust for the complex sample design of pre and post cross-sectional surveys. Estimates were age standardized to the 2000 US Census population. We used multivariate logistic regression to calculate odds ratios and corresponding 95% confidence intervals.
Results: We found no significant difference in prevalence of diabetic retinopathy between the control and intervention communities (p > .05). However, after adjusting for other confounders, receipt of eye care education (OR, 1.59; 95% CI, 1.19-2.13) was independently associated with receipt of dilated eye examination among African Americans with diabetes. Compared with individuals without diabetic retinopathy, those with diabetic retinopathy were more likely to use eye care services (OR, 1.89; 95% CI, 1.41-2.54).
Conclusions: Diabetic retinopathy is a considerable problem among African American communities. Community intervention efforts, such as comprehensive eye care education, that specifically target improvement in diabetic retinopathy and use of eye are services could help better serve this population.