The 4th Street Ophthalmology Clinic: Screening for Eye Disease in Homeless Populations

Maximilian R. Padilla BS1, Brian Stagg MD2

University of Utah School of Medicine1, University of Utah Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences2

The 4th Street clinic is a free clinic for homeless patients in Salt Lake City that incorporates primary and specialty care, including a monthly Ophthalmology clinic.Homeless populations are at an increased risk for ocular pathology compared to the non-homeless (1,2). One study found that 56% of homeless individuals suffer from decreased visual acuity (VA), and that 54% of these patients would benefit from refractive correction (3).Along with funding and transportation issues, one of the main reasons so many homeless individuals have poor VA, is that they do not know where to go for VA testing, or where/how to get corrective lenses (4,5). In Hawaii, mobile screening clinics have been successfully used to deliver VA testing to homeless populations. This helped identify patients that could benefit from further testing, or corrective lenses (4). At the 4th street clinic, we would like to establish a similar visual acuity screening program. 4th Street is a well established and respected clinic centrally located in Salt Lake City, near homeless shelters, and accessible by public transportation.  These factors, along with currently operating monthly Ophthalmology clinics, make it an ideal location for vision screening.

We propose a public health screening program be established at the 4th Street clinic to address the unique needs of this population.  The program would train personnel in basic vision and eye disease screening. Patients not meeting a basic level of visual function or with signs of eye disease would be referred to the intake eye clinic for further management.

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