Severe mental illness and ophthalmic health: a linked administrative data study

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While evidence has emerged highlighting the potential benefits of the eye as a window to the central nervous system, research on severe mental illness (SMI) and eye health is rare.
We examine the association of SMI with a range of ophthalmic health outcomes, and whether any relationship is modified by age.
We used linked administrative data from general practitioner (GP), hospital and
ophthalmic records to examine receipt of any Health and Social Care (HSC) eye-test; and (based on eligibility recorded for a sight test) any glaucoma, any diabetes, and any blindness among the Northern Ireland (NI) hospital population between January 2015 and November 2019 (N=798,564).
When compared with non-SMI patients, those with SMI recorded a higher prevalence of having had a sight test, diabetes, and blindness. In fully adjusted logistic regression models, higher likelihood of an eye-test and diabetes (OR=1.71: 95%CI=1.63, 1.79 and OR=1.29: 1.19, 1.40 respectively); and lower likelihood of glaucoma remained (OR=0.69: 0.53, 0.90). Amongst persons with SMI there was evidence that the likelihood of having had an eye-test was lower in the older age-groups.
Our study provides new evidence on ophthalmic health inequalities associated with SMI. While the study has immediate relevance to its NI context, we believe it is generalizable to wider UK health concerns. We emphasize the need for more research of this type, using large linkable electronic administrative databases to further our understanding of both health inequalities associated with SMI and poor eye health, and health outcomes in general
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0286860
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages13
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number6
Early online date7 Jun 2023
Publication statusPublished online - 7 Jun 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
GL received the funding award. This work was undertaken for a project as part of Administrative Data Research Northern Ireland, which is supported by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) (project number: ES/ W010240/1). The authors acknowledge the help provided by the staff of the Honest Broker Service (HBS) within the Business Services Organisation Northern Ireland (BSO). The HBS is funded by the BSO and the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety for Northern Ireland (DHSSPSNI). The authors alone are responsible for the interpretation of the data and any views or opinions presented are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the BSO. The authors also acknowledge the expert guidance provided by steering committee members from the Royal College of Psychiatrists, NI Department of Finance, the Belfast Trust, Cause NI and Inspire.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Ferry et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


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