Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Illicit drug use and self-reported vision loss among military service members or veterans
  1. Justin Tyler McDaniel1,
  2. W D Jenkins2,
  3. D L Albright3,
  4. D Null1,
  5. S McIntosh3 and
  6. M R McDaniel4
  1. 1School of Human Sciences, Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Carbondale, Illinois, USA
  2. 2Population Science and Policy, Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, Springfield, Illinois, USA
  3. 3School of Social Work, The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA
  4. 4College of Adult and Graduate Studies, Colorado Christian University, Lakewood, Colorado, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Justin Tyler McDaniel, School of Human Sciences, Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Carbondale, IL 62901, USA; jtmcd{at}


Introduction Little is known about differences in vision loss prevalence among service members or veterans (SMVs) and civilians; further, no study has compared vision loss risk factors in these two populations. As such, we seek to fill this gap in the literature.

Methods In this cross sectional study, we obtained data on 106 SMVs and 1572 civilians from the 2013–2018 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys. We compared the prevalence of or mean values of vision loss risk factors between SMVs and civilians using the Wald χ2 statistic or Kruskal-Wallis test. Further, we examined the relative strength of 17 vision loss risk factors in predicting self-reported vision loss via Firth’s logistic regression.

Results SMVs had a significantly higher prevalence of illicit drug use (20.75% vs 13.62%) and HIV (1.89% vs 0.41%), while civilians had a higher prevalence of poor dietary habits (7.61% vs 13.21%). SMVs also had higher mean values of systolic blood pressure (125.85 vs 122.53 mmHg), pack years of cigarette smoking (8.29 vs 4.25), and sedentary minutes per day (379.15 vs 337.07 min). More SMVs (8.49%) self-reported vision loss than civilians (4.48%). After adjustment for covariates, illicit drug use (adjusted β coefficient=0.72, p=0.02) was associated with self-reported vision loss.

Conclusions This study indicates that self-reported vision loss among SMVs is more prevalent than among civilians, and vision loss in SMVs is associated with severe or prolonged illicit drug use.

  • health informatics
  • epidemiology
  • HIV & AIDS
  • ophthalmology
  • substance misuse

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Twitter @jtmcdaniel88

  • Contributors All authors contributed to this manuscript equally.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval This study used publicly available, de-identified data from a website; as such, this study was considered exempt from Institutional Review Board review.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement Data are available in a public, open access repository. Data are available from the following website: