Health literacy and ophthalmic patient education

Surv Ophthalmol. 2010 Sep-Oct;55(5):454-9. doi: 10.1016/j.survophthal.2010.03.005. Epub 2010 Jul 21.


In 1997, Ebrahimzadeh, Davalos, and Lee wrote in this journal that only 32% of the ophthalmic patient educational materials reviewed were written at or below the recommended eighth-grade reading level. Since that time, the National Assessment of Adult Literacy found that more than one-third of adult Americans possess only basic or below basic health literacy skills, defined as the ability to understand written information in a healthcare setting. Subsequently, investigators have shown that poor health literacy skills are associated with poor prescription medication adherence, increased hospital admissions, and increased mortality. We review the readability of currently available ophthalmic educational materials, with particular attention to the health literacy status of the patient population for which the materials are intended. Examples of prose at various readability levels are provided. Optimizing patient education and improving clinical outcomes requires understanding the attributes that the patient brings to the patient-physician relationship, including health literacy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Eye Diseases*
  • Health Literacy*
  • Humans
  • Ophthalmology / education*
  • Patient Education as Topic*
  • Teaching / methods