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INSIGHT: Network of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


UAB Ophthalmology was one of four sites that were part of the INSIGHT Network of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (2010-2016). INSIGHT (standing for Innovative Network for Sight Research) was a collaborative vision research whose focus was to assess and evaluate system-level and individual-level factors that influence access to eye care, and the quality of eye care received. Site-specific and network studies investigated barriers and enablers to the delivery of efficacious and cost-effective eye care that evidence-based research has shown to prevent vision loss and promote eye health.

The focus of the UAB INSIGHT center was on a high-risk yet underserved adult population, namely African Americans residing in Jefferson County, Alabama. Rates of vision impairment and eye disease among African Americans are two times higher than those of whites, especially glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy. We have a unique resource to address this issue, through a partnership between the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the Cooper Green Jefferson Health System. This health system serves residents of Jefferson County regardless of their ability to pay including those who are uninsured and under-insured.

About 80% of adults seen at the CHS/JHS clinics are African American; 70% have no health insurance whatsoever. Over 60% have diagnoses of glaucoma and/or diabetes. Using the CGH/JHS administrative database and studies involving individual patients in the clinics, our center provided system- and individual-level information on how to improve access to and quality of eye care for this underserved population. An example was our recent paper on the low utilization of eye care services among African Americans with diabetes who depend on safety net public health systems, and the factors associated with this low utilization. Our center also participated in network-wide studies collaboratively with other INSIGHT centers and CDC, including a diabetic retinopathy screening program in primary medical care settings using a non-mydriatic camera, which we also deployed in a pediatric endocrinology clinic for retinopathy screening.