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Do Routine Eye Exams Improve Vision?


  • Gabriel Picone


  • Derek Brown


  • Frank Sloan


  • Paul Lee


We use a longitudinal national sample of Medicare claims linked to the National Long-Term Care Survey (NLTCS) to assess the productivity of routine eye examinations. Although such exams are widely recommended by professional organizations for certain populations, there is limited empirical evidence on the productivity of such care. We measure two outcomes, the ability to continue reading, and no onset of blindness or low vision, accounting for potential endogeneity of frequency of eye exams. Using instrumental variables, we find a statistically significant and beneficial effect of routine eye exams for both outcomes. Marginal effects for reading ability are large, but decline in the number of years with eye exams. Effects for blindness/low vision are smaller for the general elderly population, but larger for persons with diabetes. Instrumental variables provide a useful approach for assessing the productivity of particular interventions, particularly in situations in which randomized controlled trials are expensive or perhaps unethical and difficult to conduct over a lengthy time period.

Suggested Citation

  • Gabriel Picone & Derek Brown & Frank Sloan & Paul Lee, 2004. "Do Routine Eye Exams Improve Vision?," International Journal of Health Economics and Management, Springer, vol. 4(1), pages 43-63, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:ijhcfe:v:4:y:2004:i:1:p:43-63

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    Cited by:

    1. Chun-Chih Chen & Yen-Ju Lin & Ying-Tzu Lin, 2013. "Awareness and utilization of preventive care services among the elderly under National Health Insurance," International Journal of Health Economics and Management, Springer, vol. 13(3), pages 247-260, December.
    2. Mroz, T. & Picone, G., 2011. "A Multiple State Duration Model with Endogenous Treatment," Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers 11/19, HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York.

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