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National Health Interview Survey (NHIS)


The National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) is a health survey of the civilian, noninstitutionalized, household population of the United States conducted continuously since 1957 by the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). The survey provides information on the health of the United States population, including information on the prevalence and incidence of disease, the extent of disability, and the use of health care services. In 2002 and 2008, additional questions to assess and monitor progress of the Healthy People 2010 vision objectives were added to NHIS questionnaires.

NHIS and Vision/Eye Health Questions

The selected NHIS vision health questions are below. For detail information about vision health questions, please visit NCHS/NHIS Web site.

  • Selected NHIS Vision/Eye health related questions:
    • Do you have any trouble seeing, even when wearing glasses or contact lenses?
    • Are you blind or unable to see at all?
    • What condition or health problem causes you to have difficulty with Vision/problem seeing?
    • How long have you had limiting vision problem?
    • During the PAST 12 MONTHS, have you seen or talked to an optometrist, optician, or eye doctor (someone who prescribes eyeglasses) about your own health?
    • During the PAST 12 MONTHS, was there any time when you needed eyeglasses but didn't get it because you couldn't afford it?
    • When was the last time you had an eye exam in which the pupils were dilated? This would have made you temporarily sensitive to bright light.
  • Selected vision questions in a 2002 and 2008 NHIS supplement used to track progress of Healthy People 2010 objectives:
    • Questions from the sample adult
      • Have you EVER been told by a doctor or other health professional that you had…..
        ….diabetic retinopathy?
        ….macular degeneration?
      • Have you ever had a cataract operation?
      • Do you wear eyeglasses or contact lenses?
      • Do you use any adaptive devices such as telescopic or other prescriptive lenses, magnifiers, large print or talking materials, Closed Caption Television (CCTV), white cane, or guide dog?
    • Questions from the sample child (SC)
      • Has SC had (his/her) vision tested by a doctor or other health professional?
      • When was (his/her) vision last tested?
      • Does SC wear eyeglasses (because of nearsightedness) to read road and street signs, see the blackboard, play sports, watch TV, see things in the distance?
      • Does SC wear eyeglasses (because of farsightedness) to read books, write, play handheld games (like Gameboy), or to do other things that require (his/her) to see well up close?
      • Does SC participate in sports, hobbies, or other activities that can cause eye injury?
      • How often does (he/she) wear eye protection when doing these activities?

Relevant publications:

Zhang X, Saaddine JB, Lee PP, et al. Eye care in the United States: do we deliver to high-risk people who can benefit most from it? Arch.Ophthalmol 2007;125(3):411–418.