Gender Matters! Evidence For Women and Optometric Care

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Gender is a determinant of health.  Population health is regarded as ‘the health outcomes of a group of individuals, including the distribution of such outcomes within a particular group’.  In addition to demographic factors like gender, other determinants of health include care delivery systems, social factors, and one’s environment.  These determinants all have a biological impact on individual health at the population level.  While serving on the medical staff and as faculty at Johns Hopkins, I was awarded NIH/NEI funding for my PhD research training and education in health services research (HSR) and health policy which is directly related to population health.  HSR researchers focus on knowledge discovery to address population health issues in health care.  The evidence we uncover can then be used to support health policy that improves health care delivery processes, promotes health and public safety, informs evidence-based clinical guidelines, assumptions for economic analyses, new regulation/legislation, and reimbursement priorities.  One important advocacy pathway I’ve been involved in early on in my career involves continuing health professional education (CE, CME) especially as it pertains to certain populations; in my case, primarily individuals of all ages with chronic vision impairment, people with special needs, and women.  I’ve had the pleasure to present an AAO Ellerbrock lecture entitled Women and Vision:  Are We At Risk for Vision Morbidity? with a team of ‘super women in optometry’ Drs. Louise Sclafani, Melissa Barnett, and Diana Shechtman.  More recently I presented at the 1st World Congress of Optometry in Colombia on Women and Optometry – Why We Matter. In 2016, AOA Focus published an important article on The Female Patient that features these incredible women including Dr. Pamela Lowe and highlights how gender as a determinant impacts individual health.  This piece is a wonderful example of how optometrists can contribute to improved health outcomes in women by translating evidence into direct patient care.  In parallel with general medical care, evidence-based information in eye and vision care is critically important to the day-to-day clinical decision making in our practices.  Please read more to see why women matter!

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