The Albuquerque Area Indian Health Service Optometry Program provides eye care services to a large Indian population comprised of twenty-six Indian Tribes. The overall goal of the program is to take both preventive and treatment measures to address vision or eye conditions which adversely affect the academic, vocational, professional, or physiological well-being of Tribal members. The evaluation was initiated by the Pueblo tribes to review and assess optometric services provided to them by the Albuquerque Area Indian Health Service. The evaluation was designed as a consumer evaluation to highlight the common problems with, and barriers to eye care services, to outline consumer needs, and to recommend alternative solutions. The evaluation team used a combination of methods in collecting data. Questionnaires, on- site interviews and observations, review of relevant descriptive information and review of relevant literature were the primary means of data collection. The team identified a stratified sample that included Service Unit health boards, community health representatives, governors and other Tribal officials, patients. and individuals who did not utilize eye care services provided by IHS. Optometry services were limited in terms of both the types of services provided and accessibility to members of the nineteen Pueblo Tribes. Shortages of professional manpower, combined with the great distances which patients have to travel to get to clinics, result in waiting lists where patients have to wait for treatment for as long as two years. Restricting eye care services primarily to school-age youth and older adults precludes many individuals from receiving needed eye care. Inadequate eye care facilities compound existing problems. Uniform operational policies and procedures were lacking and as a result service priorities and quality control are left at the discretion of the individual Service Units. The evaluation recommended that the scope of services be expanded to include areas presently neglected such as contact lens programs, diabetic screening, trachoma screening, glaucoma screening, and a community optometric education program. Present appointment and scheduling procedures are inefficient and need to be revised in order to accommodate more effectively, the needs of the respective Tribes. If restrictions on eligibility of eye care services must exist, then the Tribe's must be consulted with regard to establishing Priorities. Thorough visual analyses and appropriate prescriptions must be provided especially for the elders. Adequate financial support must be sought from Congress in order to maintain adequate levels of manpower.
Indian Health Service, Staff Office of Planning, Evaluation and Research, Rockville, MD 20857 (E-30).
Toya JL. Reid KL. Evaluation of the Albuquerque Area Indian Health Service Optometric services provided to 19 Pueblo Indian communities. Indian Health Service, Staff Office of Planning, Evaluation and Research, Rockville, MD 20857 (E-30). 1979