by Daniel Parker, RDPFS Intern
During this first week of Black History Month 2023, we are recognizing some systemic issues relating to African Americans and vision loss. First in this coverage is an initiative from the National Eye Institute (NEI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) called Write the Vision. According to NEI, “Write the Vision is a year-round, calendar-based initiative designed for African American audiences.” NEI has developed materials, including handouts, videos, and other resources, that can be shared each month in local communities across the nation to heighten public awareness about eye health, vision and aging, and eye diseases among African Americans. This program was developed in response to the high incidence of eye diseases in African American populations. Specifically, about 190,000 African-Americans have low vision, and 825,000 have diabetic retinopathy. Additionally, African Americans are at higher risk of glaucoma at a younger age. Glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and cataract, according to the NEI, “don’t have symptoms at first, and can cause vision loss or blindness if they’re not treated. African Americans have some of the highest rates of vision loss and blindness caused by eye disease — and these rates are getting higher. The good news is that comprehensive dilated eye exams can find many of these eye diseases early, when they’re often easier to treat. Our Write the Vision initiative can help you spread the word about healthy vision among African Americans in your community. You can help prevent vision loss and blindness!” You can find out more here about general eye health facts and Write the Vision.