Addressing High Levels Of Eye Disorders In Latinos

By: Luis Torres

Latest study in The Journal of the American Academy of Ophthamology suggests that Latinos have a higher risk of visual impairment and eye disease than their American counterparts. The implications of these studies on educators and other social service workers and agencies and providers, is of immense importance when you consider that Latinos are now the largest minority and fastest growing population in the United States.

Some of the most striking pieces of information in this article are—

  • Researchers have known that type 2 diabetes hits Latino communities particularly hard
  • The physicians found that nearly one in four participants had diabetes (mostly type 2)—and one in five of these participants with diabetes was newly diagnosed during the LALES clinic exam.
  • Half of participants with diabetes had diabetic retinopathy, a complication of diabetes that harms the circulatory system of the retina and leads to blurring and sudden vision loss.
  • Researchers also found that nearly 5 percent of Latinos had open-angle glaucoma and nearly 4 percent had ocular hypertension.

A huge barrier in addressing these issues are ensuring the availability of culturally competent and properly trained medical professionals who can communicate with Latino families and their children.

Implications for Educators
Given that educators spend the most time with Latino children and interact on a more regular basis with their parents, teachers must then serve as facilitator between health professionals and families and their children. Teachers must encourage Latino students to get eye examinations at school and to become actively engaged in treating potentially blinding impairments early on in their childhood stages.

Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California
The journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology