• Ethnicity and Eye Disease: A Risk Reminder for Asian-, African- and Latino-Americans

    Written By: Linda Apeles and Hyun Shin
    Apr. 26, 2016

    While it may be widely known that the risk of vision loss increases with age, Americans may be less aware that one’s ancestry and ethnicity can play a significant role in increasing odds.

    In fact, a recent study published in the journal Ophthalmology has shown a link between African ancestry in Latino-Americans and increased intraocular pressure, a major risk factor for the eye disease glaucoma. This is one of the latest examples of a growing body of research showing that certain minority groups are at greater risk for serious eye conditions that can cause vision loss and blindness if left untreated.

    The American Academy of Ophthalmology is reminding Americans of African, Latino and Asian heritage of their increased risk for eye diseases. It is sharing information about eye disease among these ethnic groups to encourage people of these backgrounds to take early steps to protect their sight.

    Many eye diseases may have no apparent symptoms in their early stages. Signs can remain hidden unless detected through a dilated eye exam. These exams are the best way to detect eye diseases so they can be treated early to help prevent vision loss.

    The Academy recommends that adults of all ethnicities have a baseline comprehensive eye exam with an ophthalmologist – a physician specializing in medical and surgical eye care – ideally when they turn 40. This is when age-related eye changes often begin to occur.

    People who are 65 and older should get an eye exam every one to two years. Those with chronic conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure or known eye diseases may need to go more often.

    Seniors may qualify for EyeCare America, a public service program of the Academy that offers eye exams and care at no out-of-pocket cost for eligible adults age 65 and older.