Use of the ICD-10 vision codes to study ocular conditions in Medicare beneficiaries with stroke

Kimberly P. Hreha, Steve R. Fisher, Timothy A. Reistetter, Kenneth Ottenbacher, Allen Haas, Chih Ying Li, Joshua R. Ehrlich, Diane B. Whitaker, Heather E. Whitson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: Ocular conditions are common following stroke and frequently occur in combination with pre-existing ophthalmologic disease. The Medicare International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-10) coding system for identifying vision related health conditions provides a much higher level of detail for coding these complex scenarios than the previous ICD-9 system. While this new coding system has advantages for clinical care and billing, the degree to which providers and researchers are utilizing the expanded code structure is unknown. The purpose of this study was to describe the use of ICD-10 vision codes in a large cohort of stroke survivors. Methods: Retrospective cohort design to study national 100% Medicare claims files from 2015 through 2017. Descriptive data analyses were conducted using all available ICD-10 vision codes for beneficiaries who had an acute care stay because of a new stroke. The outcome of interest was ≥1 ICD-10 visual code recorded in the claims chart. Results: The cohort (n = 269,314) was mostly female (57.1%) with ischemic stroke (87.8%). Approximately 15% were coded as having one or more ocular condition. Unspecified glaucoma was the most frequently used code among men (2.83%), those over 85+ (4.80%) and black beneficiaries (4.12%). Multiple vision codes were used in few patients (0.6%). Less than 3% of those in the oldest group (85+ years) had two or more vision codes in their claims. Conclusions: Ocular comorbidity was present in a portion of this cohort of stroke survivors, however the vision codes used to describe impairments in this population were few and lacked specificity. Future studies should compare ophthalmic examination results with billing codes to characterize the type and frequency of ocular comorbidity. It important to understand how the use of ICD-10 vision codes impacts clinical decision making, recovery, and outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number628
JournalBMC Health Services Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 8 2020


  • Comorbidity
  • Impairment
  • Medical coding
  • Ocular conditions
  • Stroke
  • Vision

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy


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