Power duo looks to improve Hispanic eye health

The National Association of Hispanic Nurses (NAHN) has joined forces with Transitions Optical to reach out to Hispanic communities about the importance of eye health.…

Improving Hispanic eye health. (Shutterstock)

The National Association of Hispanic Nurses (NAHN) has joined forces with Transitions Optical to reach out to Hispanic communities about the importance of eye health.

The partnership will allow NAHN acces to eye health materials in both Spanish and English to be issued in communities seen as high-risk. According to the National Eye Institute, Hispanics have higher rates of developing visual impairment, blindness, diabetic eye disease, and cataracts than non-Hispanic whites, making education about the importance of eye health of the utmost importance for this growing minority population.

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“Nurses are on the frontlines of patient care and are taking on increasing responsibilities for care coordination among multiple providers – placing them in a critical position of being able to identify patients at higher risk for eye health issues, and to encourage them to get the follow-up care they need,” said Celia M. Besore, executive director and CEO, NAHN, in a press release. “At NAHN, we recognize that visual health is integral to overall health and wellbeing, and we are pleased to better serve our patients by adding eye health as a key education priority for our members to embrace over the coming years.”

Blue eyes

Improving Hispanic eye health. (Shutterstock) (Shutterstock)

Research has shown that Hispanics, over a four-year study period, have visual impairment and blindness at the highest rate of any ethnic group in the country. Approximately 3 percent of Hispanics developed visual impairment and 0.3 percent developed blindness in both eyes, with older adults impacted more frequently. Of Hispanics age 80 and older, 19.4 percent became visually impaired, and 3.8 percent became blind in both eyes.

Other eyes issues were also more likely to develop for Hispanics, including diabetic retinopathy. Approximately 34 percent of Hispanics who have diabetes developed diabetic retinopathy.

Researchers found that Hispanics who already had visual impairment, blindness, or diabetic retinopathy in one eye when they began the investigations by the Los Angeles Latino Eye Study (LALES) had very high rates of developing the condition in the other eye during the study. More than half of participants who already had diabetic retinopathy in one eye developed it in the other eye.

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“The goal of the Transitions Cultural Connections program is to raise awareness among diverse groups about the importance of getting regular eye exams and wearing the right eyewear to correct, enhance and protect their vision for the future,” said Manuel Solis, marketing manager, labs and strategic partnerships, Transitions Optical. “We believe that nurses provide an important touch point with consumers, often at points when they are diagnosed with or treated for health issues that have consequences for their vision, and we are honored to have a partner in the NAHN to bring eye health education to this at-risk population.”

Hispanics are considered a high-risk group for eye health issues due to lack of access to care, lack of health insurance coverage, and lack of knowledge regarding eye health in general. Hispanics also are disproportionately affected by eye issues as a result of other health conditions like diabetes and hypertension.

Unfortunately, more than 40 percent of Hispanic Americans do not know that hypertension can impact the eyes.

The partnership for eye health will offer a means of education the Hispanic community regarding this important issue.