Studies show that variance in eye disease may be linked to race, and Black individuals may be at increased risk for chronic eye conditions like diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma.
November Is National Diabetes Month
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 37.3 million Americans have diabetes, and one in five people with diabetes are unaware they have it. November is National Diabetes Month. Because diabetic eye disease is a leading cause of vision loss, it’s important to detect diabetic eye disease early and get treatment as soon as possible.
Black Individuals and Diabetic Retinopathy
Diabetic retinopathy (DR) involves damage to the eye’s retina that occurs with long-term diabetes. Although there are few symptoms of DR in the early stages, people may experience floaters, blurred vision, blindness, shadows and missing areas of sight as the disease progresses. Data from the Salisbury Eye Evaluation (SEE) study found that Black individuals were four times as likely as white individuals to have vision loss from diabetic retinopathy. Additionally, DR causes 17 percent of vision loss among Black individuals.
Glaucoma and Black Individuals
Glaucoma is a term for a family of eye diseases that affect the optic nerve, which transmits visual signals to the brain. Often known as the “sneak thief of sight,” glaucoma usually has no symptoms in the early stages. However, once the condition is diagnosed, it often has already caused permanent vision loss. Black individuals are six times more likely to go blind from glaucoma, and the disease typically strikes this patient population 10 years earlier than other ethnicities.
Importance of Annual Comprehensive Eye Exams
The most effective way to prevent eye disease is by scheduling annual comprehensive eye exams.
“Being that Black patients do not get eye exams as early or frequently, this increases risk for or prevalence of conditions like glaucoma and diabetic or hypertensive retinopathy going undetected,” said Darryl Glover, OD, a private practitioner from Durham, North Carolina. “This puts Black patients in a disadvantaged position by setting off a cascade of events that negatively impact how they function in life. Overall, we need to see all walks of life earlier and more frequently, especially in the Black community” (Healio).
Schedule an Eye Exam Today
Your eye health is a precious gift. When was the last time you had a comprehensive eye exam? If you are not under the care of a board-certified ophthalmologist, you are putting your eyesight at risk. Individuals with chronic conditions like diabetes or hypertension must be especially vigilant, as they may be at increased risk for eye disease. Remember that prevention is always less expensive than treatment.
An eye exam takes less than an hour, and your doctor will evaluate your vision and eye health. Our eye care centers are located nationwide, and their friendly staff can schedule you for an appointment at your convenience.