Latinos experience high rates of eye disease

August 09, 2004

SAN FRANCISCO - Latinos have high prevalence rates of visual impairment and blindness, and those who are older, unemployed, divorced or widowed, or have diabetes are more likely to be visually impaired. This is the conclusion of a multi-part study appearing in the June through August issues of Ophthalmology, the clinical journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the Eye M.D. Association.

The Los Angeles Latino Eye Study (LALES) is a population-based prevalence study of eye disease in 6,357 Latinos (primarily Mexican-Americans) aged 40 years and older in La Puente, Los Angeles County, California.

Rohit Varma, MD, MPH, associate professor of ophthalmology and preventive medicine at the Doheny Eye Institute at the Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, and lead author of the study, said, "These results suggest the importance of developing targeted programs aimed at Latinos for evaluation and treatment of eye diseases."

Some of the major findings are:"This study is very helpful because there is a huge health problem in the Mexican-American population that needs to be addressed," said Academy spokesperson Jose Pulido, MD, professor of ophthalmology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. "However, we cannot assume the results of this study apply to all Latinos, since Mexican-Americans are of Hispanic and American Indian descents, and this may be different than a Caribbean population, which would be of more Hispanic and African descents. Additional studies looking at the different Latino populations would be helpful."
This study was funded by the National Eye Institute and the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities, of the National Institutes of Health, with additional support from Research to Prevent Blindness.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology is the world's largest association of eye physicians and surgeons--Eye M.D.s--with more than 27,000 members. For more information about eye health care, visit the Academy's partner Web site, the Medem Network, at To find an Eye M.D. in your area, visit the Academy's Web site at

American Academy of Ophthalmology

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