Eye Health Issues
African Americans are 1.5 times more at risk for developing the eye disease cataracts than the general population – and are five times more likely to develop blindness as a result. Extended exposure to UV rays is also a risk to your eye health.
African Americans are five times more likely than Caucasians to develop the eye disease glaucoma, and are four times more likely to suffer blindness as a result.
Despite their higher risks, less than four out of 10 African Americans had an eye exam, within the past year. Additionally, only 7% of African Americans know that extended exposure to the sun (a risk for cataract) can damage the eyes. And, research shows that African Americans are the most likely demographic group to say they do nothing to protect their eyes from the sun.
General Health Issues
Diabetes, which can be detected through an eye exam, can cause blurred vision. Over time, it can lead to diabetic retinopathy, and can increase risk for developing cataract and glaucoma. Prevalence of diabetic retinopathy is 70% higher in African Americans vs. Caucasians.
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, can sometimes be detected through an eye exam. It can lead to hypertensive retinopathy, which causes blurry vision and even blindness. African Americans are 40% more likely to have high blood pressure, and are 10% less likely to have it under control.
HIV/AIDS is trending upward in the U.S. African-American population. Late-stage AIDS can lead to retinal detachment and blindness within two to six months.
Finally, Sickle Cell Disease can cause vision problems and even blindness when sickle-shaped cells block blood vessels in the eye. Roughly two million African Americans in the U.S. – or one in 12 – are carriers of the sickle cell trait.