ARLINGTON, Va.—The American Diabetes Association (ADA) and Genentech, a member of the Roche Group, announced a new partnership as part of the ADA's Health Equity Now work to tackle access to screening and treatment for eye diseases that affect the diabetes community. Diabetes is the leading cause of vision loss in people 18 to 64 years old, and African Americans, American Indians, Alaska Natives, Hispanics/Latinos, and older adults living with diabetes are at higher risk of losing their vision or going blind.

Comprehensive eye exams play a crucial role in the prevention, early detection, and intervention of eye disease and vision loss caused by diabetes, yet many in these communities either don't receive or don't have appropriate access to eye health care.

"For people living with diabetes, a regular eye exam is a must to prevent or delay vision loss caused by diabetes," said Charles "Chuck" Henderson, chief executive officer of the ADA. "Sadly, health inequities have led to many people not receiving the eyecare and treatment they need. Through this community-based program made possible by Genentech, we will identify the barriers to eye health, address those barriers, and support community awareness through screenings and education."

The programming will kick off with a pilot in Birmingham, Ala., in collaboration with community partners to conduct focus groups with African Americans to understand the barriers to eye health in under-resourced communities and provide resources, including education and screenings, to address these barriers. Learnings from this pilot will inform future collaborative work between the ADA and Genentech to improve health equity in eyecare for people living with diabetes.

"Health disparities are a deep-rooted and systemic challenge," said Alexander Hardy, chief executive officer of Genentech. "Genentech is proud to support the ADA's Health Equity Now program as an important step forward in driving better eyecare for all patients. This builds on our commitment to address inequities by advancing inclusive research in ophthalmology, expanding diversity in the field, and improving equitable access to care."

Genentech is a leading biotechnology company that discovers, develops, manufactures and commercializes medicines to treat patients with serious and life-threatening medical conditions.