Eye :: US Latinos have high rates of eye disease & visual impairment

Latinos living in the United States have high rates of eye
disease and visual impairment, according to a research
study, and a significant number may be unaware of their eye
disease. This study, called the Los Angeles Latino Eye
Study (LALES), is the largest, most comprehensive
epidemiological analysis of visual impairment in Latinos
conducted in the U.S.

It was funded by the National Eye
Institute (NEI) and the National Center on Minority Health
and Health Disparities (NCMHD), two components of the
Federal government’s National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Study results are published in the June, July and August
2004 issues of the journal “Ophthalmology”.

Researchers found that Latinos had high rates of diabetic
retinopathy, an eye complication of diabetes; and open-
angle glaucoma, a disease that damages the optic nerve.

The researchers noted that many study participants did not
know they had an eye disease. One in five individuals with
diabetes was newly diagnosed during the LALES clinic exam,
and 25 percent of these individuals were found to have
diabetic retinopathy. Overall, almost half of all Latinos
with diabetes had diabetic retinopathy. Among those with
any signs of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a
condition that can lead to a loss of central vision, only
57 percent reported ever visiting an eye care practitioner,
and only 21 percent did so annually. Seventy-five percent
of Latinos with glaucoma and ocular hypertension (high
pressure in the eye) were undiagnosed before participating

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