Latinos have higher rates of developing visual impairment, blindness, diabetic eye disease, and cataracts than non-Hispanic whites, researchers found. These are the first estimates of visual impairment and eye disease development in Latinos, the largest and fastest growing minority population in the United States.
The research was part of the Los Angeles Latino Eye Study (LALES), which was supported by the National Eye Institute (NEI), part of the National Institutes of Health. LALES began in 2000 as the nation's largest and most comprehensive study of vision in Latinos.
"This study showed that Latinos develop certain vision conditions at different rates than other ethnic groups," said Rohit Varma, M.D., M.P.H., principal investigator of LALES and director of the Ocular Epidemiology Center at the Doheny Eye Institute, University of Southern California. "The burden of vision loss and eye disease on the Latino community is increasing as the population ages, and many eye diseases are becoming more common."
Hispanics numbered 45 million in the United States as of 2007, according to the Census Bureau. In the current phase of LALES, researchers examined more than 4,600 Latinos four years after they initially enrolled in the study to determine the development of new eye disease and the progression of existing conditions, including visual impairment, blindness, diabetic eye disease, age-related macular degeneration, and cataracts.
Participants were mainly of Mexican descent, age 40 and older, and living in the city of La Puente, Los Angeles County, Calif. Study results were published in four papers in the May issue of the American Journal of Ophthalmology.
"These data have significant public health implications and present a challenge for eye care providers to develop programs to address the burden of eye disease in Latinos," said NEI Director Paul A. Sieving, M.D., Ph.D. "NEI has a strong record of commitment to ed
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