To test the hypothesis that access to and amount of eye care services in Jamaica are inadequate and that this is related to insufficient eye care personnel and legal limitations on optometric practice in Jamaica.
An eye care provider survey, a consumer survey, and a literature search were used for data collection. The consumer sample consisted of 500 subjects (aged 16 to 84 years or older) recruited from a stratified random sample of food markets in Jamaica. The provider sample consisted of 10 ophthalmologists and 10 optometrists, randomly selected from licensing rosters. Adequacy of amount of eye care services was measured by comparing the frequency of eye examinations in Jamaica with professional practice guidelines. Access was measured by the eye provider to population ratio compared with calculated need for adequate care.
Only 38.6% of the study population had received an eye examination within 3 years and only 23.4% reported having eye examinations at least once every 3 years. Over 43% had never received an eye examination. The total eye care provider/population ratio was only 2.04/100,000 and only 1.32/100,000 when optometrists are excluded.
Access to and amount of eye care services are severely inadequate in Jamaica. Outdated optometric laws governing the activities of eye care professionals compounds the problem.