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New vision campaign focuses on the poor state of Latino eye health

LatinaLista — When it comes to taking care of vision problems, unless it’s full-blown blindness, too many Latinos just don’t pay attention. In fact, Latinos suffer from “visual impairment, blindness, diabetic eye disease and cataracts” more than any other ethnic group.

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An unique study called the Los Angeles Latino Eye Study (LALES), and published in the May issue of the American Journal of Ophthalmology, found that 53 percent of people in the Los Angeles’ Latino community had eye disease and 63 percent were undiagnosed.

Yet, the most disturbing finding was that the people who took part in the study didn’t just suffer from one single eye disease — they were found to have multiple undetected eye diseases.

Since many vision disorders with treatment can be improved upon, a new campaign to combat undetected eye disease among at-risk populations has been launched by the American Academy of Ophthalmology and its partners.

The EyeSmartâ„¢ EyeCheck campaign will first “focus” on Latinos since the results of the LALES research shows it’s the community most in need right now. Because of the unique findings of the LALES study, EyeCheck doctors will focus on detecting damage from eye disease rather than screening for eye disease.

The bilingual campaign will include piloting and facilitating free eye screenings in those communities that have limited access to health care services, with the first screening in July in the Los Angeles area; creating a national database of community eye screenings that use the EyeCheck approach; and provide referrals to eye care and bilingual eye health information at the screenings, as well as, at the online site.

But even before the screenings, EyeCheck asks everyone to be EyeCommitted and take the pledge to spread the word to encourage people with diabetes to pledge to get an annual eye exam.

It’s something that we can do for our loved ones and for ourselves.


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