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Latinos found to have much higher rates of vision disorders

May 1, 2010 |  9:00 am

Visual impairment, blindness, diabetic eye disease and cataracts are the highest among Latinos compared with any ethnic group in the country, according to a series of new studies.

Brown eye The findings were released Saturday as part of the Los Angeles Latino Eye Study, which is supported by the National Eye Institute. The study, which began in 2000, is the nation's largest and most comprehensive study of vision in Latinos. Most of the study participants are of Mexican descent living in La Puente.

The study found 53% of people in Los Angeles' Latino community have eye disease and 63% are undiagnosed. Many of the conditions can be treated to improve vision.

"These results underscore the importance of Latinos, especially those with diabetes, getting regular, dilated eye exams to monitor their eye health," said Dr. Rohit Varma, principal investigator of the study and director of the Ocular Epidemiology Center at the Doheny Eye Institute at USC. "Eye care professionals should closely monitor Latinos who have eye disease in one eye because their quality of life can be dramatically impacted if they develop the condition in both eyes."

The American Academy of Ophthalmology will launch a pilot program targeting Latinos this summer called EyeSmart EyeCheck. The first screening is scheduled for July 25. Details about the screenings will be posted on geteyesmart.org. Those interested can go to the site and click on the EyeSmart EyeCheck logo for more information on screenings in their area.

The studies are published in the May issue of the American Journal of Ophthalmology.

-- Shari Roan

Photo credit: Flickr

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