Biggest diseases that affect eye health in the Black Community

Did you know there are some diseases surrounding eye health that are more likely to affect people in the Black community? Whether it be due to genetics, diet or other health issues, people of African decent are more susceptible to them and their devastating effects.

Which diseases are these you may ask? Our in house Optometrist Dr. Henry explains…

"People of African descent are at higher risk for some eye diseases, including Glaucoma, Diabetic retinopathy and Cataract. More often than not, these conditions don’t present themselves with symptoms in their early stages and can cause vision loss or blindness if they’re not treated or attended to.

Glaucoma is an eye condition that results in increased pressure within the eye. It is the primary cause of blindness in Black people. This is because people of African descent have different genetic mutations and organic structures from people of white descent.  

Glaucoma is hereditary disease, and it’s therefore important to get screened if you have a family history of the condition. There may be certain lifestyle changes that one could adopt to lower their risk of a diagnosis such as maintaining a healthy diet, exercise moderately, avoid smoking and maintain a good weight. Glaucoma causes irreversible vision loss, so it’s critical the disease is detected early and managed properly.

Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes caused by high blood sugar levels damaging the back of the eye (retina). The rate of blindness from diabetic eye disease is also higher in aged black people than in aged white people. One technique you can use to reduce your risk of developing diabetic retinopathy, or help stop it getting worse, is to keep your blood sugar levels, blood pressure and cholesterol levels under control. At the advanced stages, specific treatment from your ophthalmologist is required. 

Cataract is the clouding of the normally clear lens of the eye. Most cataracts develop slowly and don't disturb your eyesight at the early stages. But with time, cataracts will eventually interfere with your vision. It is said that black people are almost twice as likely as white people to develop cataracts. Blurred vision, inability to see well in dim light, seeing halos around lights or vision loss are some symptoms of cataract. At the advanced stage of the disease, cataract surgery is needed. Blurry vision from the early stages could be corrected by a pair of glasses after undergoing a test from an optometrist. A cool pair from Bôhten would do the magic."

 Thank you Dr. Henry for sharing some insightful information on eye health in the Black community. Lookout for more posts like this on our blog page in the future.

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