New Transitions Optical Survey: Ethnic Minorities Value Their Family’s Eye Health, But Aren’t Seeking Preventive Care

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NEW YORK—A new multicultural survey from Transitions Optical, Inc. has found that while Americans value their eye health— and their family’s— few are taking regular steps to protect it. In fact, while three out of four Americans say that seeing their best is important to them— and nine out of 10 agree that seeking regular eyecare is a priority— just four in 10 visited their eyecare professional within the past year. This number was even lower for certain ethnic groups, including African Americans and American Indians.

Further, while most Americans (75 percent) worry that their child or an elderly relative they care for will develop vision problems or eye health issues, just four out of 10 took these family members to an eye doctor within the past year. Asian Americans were the most likely to say that they have never taken their children to an eye doctor. At the same time, they were also the group that appeared to be the most focused on the eye health of elderly relatives. Hispanics shared this focus on care for their elderly family members, with half taking an elderly family member to the eye doctor within the past year. African Americans and American Indians overall showed greater prioritization of eye health for family members than for themselves, with both groups being more likely to have scheduled an eye appointment for a child or elderly relative within the past year.

“Research has consistently shown that many cultures are family-focused, so it’s not surprising to see this concern over family members’ eye health,” said Manuel Solis, multicultural marketing manager, Transitions Optical. “It is disheartening, however, that this concern isn’t always translating into action, with so many children and adults of all ages not receiving preventive eyecare. These numbers reinforce a great need for the industry to educate all groups about their risks and the importance of seeking regular eyecare at all stages in life.”

The survey looked more deeply at Americans’ concerns related to specific eye health issues for themselves and their families, identifying subtle but logical differences among cultures. Among many highlights of the multicultural survey:

• Hispanics, at higher risk for diabetes, were more likely to be concerned with developing diabetes-related vision problems.
• Much confusion still exists around how to protect the eyes from cumulative UV exposure— which has been linked to the development or worsening of several eye diseases. Thirty percent of Americans believed that it is only important to protect their eyes during the spring and summer months— with Asian Americans the most likely to feel this way (44 percent).
• Eight out of 10 Americans, overall, did not know that their ethnicity could be putting them at higher risk. While ethnic groups were more likely than the general population to acknowledge this link, awareness levels were low across the board. Just a third of American Indians, Asian Americans and Hispanics, and 44 percent of African Americans, understood the role that ethnicity can play in developing vision problems and eye diseases.

“We were pleased to see the nearly 30 percent jump in the number of African Americans who are making the connection between their ethnicity and their risk for developing eye health issues,” added Solis. “We definitely increased our outreach to African Americans on this topic in the past two years, including through our ongoing partnership with the National Council of Negro Women, and we would like to thank them for their role in increasing awareness.”

To help ECPs educate culturally diverse groups about their eye health risks and encourage them to schedule regular eyecare, Transitions Optical offers a wide range of bilingual and in-language patient education resources through its Transitions Cultural Connections initiative and website at MyMulticulturalToolkit.com.