Prevalence of Eye and Vision Disorders in the Military Health System, Fiscal Year 2018

Natalie E. Slepski, Kevin M. Jackson, Jessica Pope Mitro, Amanda Banaag, Cathaleen Madsen, John Wittenborn, Tracey Pérez Koehlmoos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Eye and vision disorders are estimated to impact 7.08 million people in the United States, including 1.62 million under the age of 40. This study uses the Vision and Eye Health Surveillance System (VEHSS) case definitions to assess the burden of eye and vision disorders in a universally insured, nationally representative population. Materials and Methods: This retrospective, cross-sectional study applied the VEHSS case definitions to TRICARE claims data collected from the Military Health System Data Repository and Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System during 2018. Beneficiaries aged 0-64 years during the fiscal year 2018 were identified with inpatient and outpatient codes matching to the VEHSS diagnostic case definitions, which were organized into 17 categories of eye and vision disorders classified by the ICD-10. Beneficiaries were recorded only once per category but allowed to match to multiple categories. Analyses included descriptive statistics of patient demographics and prevalence of eye disorders. Results: We identified 4,548,897 TRICARE Prime/Plus beneficiaries (54.86% men and 45.14% women), of whom 22.93% were diagnosed with at least one disorder in 2018. Of those with a diagnosis, the majority were men (50.13%), adults (74.91%), and of or sponsored by a senior enlisted rank (57.83%), used as socioeconomic proxy. Disorders of refraction and accommodation were most prevalent, followed by infectious and inflammatory diseases. Potentially preventable and treatable conditions, including amblyopia and strabismus, infectious and inflammatory disease, and diabetic complications, affected up to 22% of those with vision disorders. Conclusions: This study represents the first use of VEHSS measures in a universally insured, socioeconomically diverse population. Identification of potentially treatable or preventable conditions indicates significant opportunity to mitigate the burden of eye and vision disorders in the Military Health System.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E3393-E3397
JournalMilitary Medicine
Issue number11-12
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2023
Externally publishedYes


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