Trends in low vision service utilisation: A retrospective study based on general population healthcare claims

Miriam L. Stolwijk, Ruth M. A. van Nispen, Ilona W. M. Verburg, Lieke van Gerwen, Tim van de Brug, Ger H. M. B. van Rens

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Purpose: To identify parameters associated with the downward trend in the uptake of Low Vision Services (LVS) in the Netherlands. Methods: A retrospective cohort study was conducted based on a Dutch national health insurance claims database (Vektis CV) of all adults (≥18 years) who received LVS from 2015 until 2018. Descriptive statistics were used to assess socio-demographic, clinical and contextual characteristics and other healthcare utilisation of the study population. General estimating equations trends in characteristics and healthcare utilisation were determined over time. Results: A total of 49,726 unique patients received LVS, but between 2015 and 2018, the number of patients decreased by 15%. The majority was aged 65 years or older (53%), female (54%), had a middle (38%) or low (24%) socio-economic status and lived in urban areas (68%). Between 2015–2018, significant downward trends were found for treatment with intravitreal injections and lens-related diseases for LVS patients. For physical comorbidity, utilisation of ophthalmic care, low vision aids and occupational therapy, a significant upward trend was found over time. Conclusion: The decrease of Dutch LVS patients by 15% between 2015 and 2018 might be explained by a reduced distribution of patients treated with intravitreal injections and patients with lens-related diseases within the LVS. Compared to 2015, patients were more likely to have physical comorbidity, to see an ophthalmologist and to use low vision aids and occupational therapy in 2016, 2017 and 2018. This might indicate enhanced access to LVS when treated by ophthalmologists or within other medical specialties, or the opposite, i.e., less access when not treated within one of these medical specialties. Future research is needed to examine differences in patterns between LVS users and non-users further.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)828-838
Number of pages11
JournalOphthalmic and Physiological Optics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2022


  • healthcare claims
  • low vision
  • low vision services
  • service utilisation
  • visual impairment

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