New Campaign Challenges Minorities To Have Their Vision Screened

Statistics and a predisposition for eye disease are two big reasons minorities must take an active role in their eye health, according to the Am Eye Healthy? campaign. April is Minority Health Month, and the Am Eye Healthy? campaign is focusing its attention on Latino and African American eye health. These minority groups have among the highest rates of visual impairment and eye disease such as glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy. In fact, glaucoma is 4 to 5 times more prevalent in African Americans than Caucasians and 75 percent of Latinos currently living with glaucoma and ocular hypertension are unaware of their disease.

At a recent Am Eye Healthy? eye screening event in Houston, Texas over 500 Latino residents showed up to have their vision tested. Nearly 80 percent of the individuals screened failed the test and were referred for follow-up care. Similar results for minority participants were seen in cities across the country. While these numbers are distressing, they are not surprising. Blindness affects African Americans more frequently than Latinos and Caucasians; and Latinos, due to poor eye health education and a genetic predisposition for eye disease, have higher rates of visual impairment than any race or ethnicity.

“The results of the Am Eye Healthy? campaign launch and corresponding screenings were very concerning,” stated Yanira Cruz, President and CEO of the National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA), a member of the Am Eye Healthy? campaign. “The huge minority turnout demonstrates the need for increased access to these types of services, while the disproportionately high number of individuals referred for additional care highlights the awareness that is needed in the Latino community to take eye health seriously.”

Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF) Associate Director of Research Kenya Covington added, “While it is well documented that there are dramatic disparities in health status and health outcomes among minority populations related to chronic illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes and HIV/AIDS, there also are growing disparities in eye disease prevention and treatment. CBCF is pleased to work with the Am Eye Healthy? campaign to help raise eye health awareness which may ultimately decrease vision impairment in minority communities.”

Many eye diseases are preventable and often times if caught in time vision loss can be reversed or minimized. The later an eye problem is diagnosed, the harder it becomes to treat. This is why all Americans, particularly minorities, need to take control of their eye health. This April, in honor of Minority Health Month, we urge all minorities to not only ask themselves, “Am Eye Healthy?” but to make sure they are.

Am Eye Healthy? is an eye health awareness and education campaign created to deliver information about the importance of regular eye screenings and exams and the value of early detection, treatment and rehabilitation options. The campaign is made possible by leading non profit organizations working in partnership with Novartis Ophthalmics, a division of Novartis Pharmaceuticals. For more information, please visit http://www.AmEyeHealthy.org.

Via PRNewswire

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