By Thomas Bunn
The USC Eye Institute has been able to offer over 1900 free eye exams to adults in Los Angeles County. Over the next 3 years, the institute will be extending those free medical exam services to residents 40 and older in the City of Inglewood.
The University of Southern California (USC) has started a new population-based eye study call the African American Eye Disease Study (AFEDS). By providing eye examinations to residents in the community, AFEDS will help improve the understanding of eye disease among African American adults.
The AFEDS study is led by USC, Keck School of Medicine with funding provided by the National Eye Institute. The purpose of the study is to learn more about eye health in African American adults aged 40 years and older living in Inglewood, so programs can be created to help African American communities, both here and nationwide.
USC Eye Institute conducted two previous studies, the Los Angeles Latino Eye Study (LALES) and the Chinese America Eye Study (CHES).
In LALES the institute discovered that some eye problems are more common in older Latinos than people of the same age in other racial and ethnic groups. Diabetic eye disease and age–related macular degeneration are the leading causes of blindness for Latinos. The majority (75%) of Latinos diagnosed with glaucoma did not know they had it, prior to participating in the study.
As a result of the LALES study, the government changed its Medicare program in 2006 to extend the glaucoma screening benefits to Latino-Americans age 65 and older.
In CHES, the institute found that Chinese Americans have a high prevalence of angle closure glaucoma as well as myopia.
Despite being one of the largest minority populations in the US, there are no recent, population-based studies of age-related eye disease in African Americans—even though African Americans have a higher burden of obesity, diabetes, and complications of diabetes than other racial and ethnic groups.
The good news is, many of these eye conditions can be prevented and successfully treated to prevent vision loss and blindness, but the key is getting checked and catching it before the damage is irreversible.
All participation is voluntary and the examinations are absolutely free. Full participation entails being interviewed by a field examiner at a convenient time for you and having your eyes examined at the AFEDS clinic located in the City of Inglewood by a fully licensed eye doctor. A summary of your results will be provided to which residents can take to their doctors for further examination.
If you are an Inglewood resident and you’re interested in participating in this study, contact the Inglewood AFEDS Clinic located at 110 S. La Brea on the 4th Floor of the Inglewood One Stop Facility. The number to call is (323) 442-6453.