Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Medical Doctor (MD)

First Advisor

Ron A Adelman

Second Advisor

Bruce Shields

Third Advisor

Silvio Inzucchi, Migues Coca-Prados


This study aims to identify the perceived barriers to eye care and to evaluate concerns about vision and eye care among patients with diabetes in the greater New Haven area. A qualitative study applying one-on-one semi-structured interviews and non-participatory observations was conducted to identify the factors that deter diabetics from seeking eye care. Patients were recruited at the Yale Primary Care Center, Diabetes Center and Eye Center, who met the following criteria: 1) have been diagnosed with type 1 or type 2 diabetes and 2) have been referred to an eye center for dilated eye exam and/or treatment. All interviews and discussions were recorded and transcribed. The transcripts were then analyzed to detect recurrent themes. Data collection continued until no new themes emerged. This study showed that lack of awareness and lack of adequate referral to regular diabetic eye exam were viewed as the most common barriers. Many patients had limited awareness that diabetes could affect the eye or lead to blindness. Patients had little knowledge of diabetic retinopathy, or the significance of early screening and intervention. Primary care providers usually emphasized diet and blood sugar control to prevent future complications; diabetic eye care education was not often prioritized. Other barriers included cost, lack of insurance, immobility due to diabetic complications, reluctance to receive medical intervention, and distrust of the services. A strong family history of diabetes and blindness due to diabetes contributed to the awareness of diabetic retinopathy, and as a result motivated patients to seek regular eye care. Raising the awareness of diabetic retinopathy and the risk of vision loss, offering more diabetic eye care education, tracking the status of patients eye exam attendance, and providing adequate eye exam referral to a patient friendly eye clinic may encourage diabetics to attend regular eye exams.


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