Insights From Our Editors

Serving Hispanic Patients: Is Greater Outreach & Education Necessary?

Sept. 30, 2015

Your Hispanic patients may need more education about what they can do to avert risks to their vision and eye health, according to new research by Wakefield for Transitions Optical, Inc. Hispanics are more likely than the general population to say that vision problems are interfering with their ability to enjoy hobbies and leisure activities (52 percent vs. 45 percent), and are also more likely to say that vision problems are hurting their productivity at work (57 percent vs. 50 percent), the study notes. Hispanic men are even more likely (63 percent) to say that their vision problems are affecting their workplace productivity and ability to enjoy hobbies.

Here are four facts about the Hispanic population you should know:

1) The prevalence of open angle glaucoma is higher among Hispanics.
2) Nearly 25 percent of Latinos have diabetes.
3) The Los Angeles Latino Eye Study published in the journal Ophthalmology found that 50 percent of the study participants with diabetes had diabetic retinopathy.
4) In that same study, Latinos were found to have high rates of early macular degeneration.

What will happen over time? As the Hispanic population ages, we should see an even higher increase of chronic disease related to aging in this population–as we would expect to see in all populations.

The two keys we need to keep top of mind are vigilance and education.

VIGILANCE

Being vigilant means keeping careful watch for possible danger or difficulties. Being aware of the increased risk within patient populations requires us to be vigilant in finding and treating the medical conditions our patients have. Open angle glaucoma, diabetes and macular degeneration are all sight-threatening conditions. We definitely must be vigilant.

EDUCATION

Open angle glaucoma, diabetes and macular degeneration are silent robbers. Especially in the early stages, these conditions exist without the patient being aware of what is going on while they are damaging–many times permanently damaging–the visual system. Early detection and early intervention can dramatically alter the course of these diseases. Education is the key. We need to spread this message to people inside and outside of our practices.

It is important for us to take this week to re-evaluate our vigilance and education efforts to identify and treat these sight-threatening conditions. Here are three questions to consider to help focus your analysis:

1) What internal and external education efforts are you actively engaged in to make people (both patients and non-patients) aware of the need for a regular eye examination to discover as early as possible sight-threatening conditions that may not be evident to the patient?

2) What have you done in the last 12 months to educate yourself and your staff about current information about the risk, diagnosis and treatment of open angle glaucoma, diabetes and macular degeneration?

3) What changes to your testing and treatment protocols have you made in the last 12 months with respect to open angle glaucoma, diabetes and macular degeneration?

Take this week to put in place a plan to improve your vigilance and education efforts for the conditions of open angle glaucoma, diabetes and macular degeneration.

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