With recent research confirming an alarming increase in eye disease among older Americans, the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) and Transitions Optical, Inc. have amplified their efforts to educate at-risk African Americans about the importance of regular eye care. With support from the Transitions Cultural Connections program, NCNW sections across the country have been providing eye health education as part of their ongoing, strategic community outreach efforts. Complementing these efforts, the NCNW’s West Coast Black Family Reunion Celebration was held on Saturday, July 13, in Los Angelees to serve as a premier forum for reaching thousands of African Americans about their eye health risks and needs.
During the West Coast Black Family Reunion Celebration, Transitions Optical provided free vision screenings for attendees. Attendees also received copies of the “What to Expect: African-American Eyes” brochure and additional information about the importance of taking preventive steps, such as scheduling annual eye exams and wearing eyewear that blocks harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. Research from Transitions Optical has shown that just four out of 10 African Americans schedule annual eye exams. Additionally, African Americans are the most likely to do nothing to protect their eyes from the sun, which has been linked to diseases such as cataract and diabetic retinopathy, both of which are more prevalent among African Americans.
In June 2012, Prevent Blindness America released a report showing a significant increase in eye diseases that are more common among African Americans, including a 19 percent increase in cataract; a 22 percent increase in glaucoma; and an alarming 89 percent spike in diabetic eye disease.
“The NCNW is committed to making eye health education a priority among at-risk African American communities–and through our national outreach efforts, we are working to ensure that more African Americans are scheduling annual eye exams and are making UV eye protection a part of their everyday routine,” says Lady Cage-Barile, NCNW Black Family Reunion Celebration regional chair. “Our partnership with Transitions Optical has allowed us to take this education to a local level – so we can actually go out into our communities and make a difference.”