According to recent data published in the journal Diabetes Care, over the last decade there has been little to no change in how frequently minority patients with diabetes are seeking annual eye care screenings. Since 2002 non-Hispanic whites with diabetes have consistently sought eye care more frequently than minority patients; the largest disparity was noted in 2008, with a 15 percent difference between non-Hispanic whites and minorities. Health care coverage is the most significant factor in receiving an eye examination.
Diabetic retinopathy is commonly found among Hispanics, with the National Eye Institute (NEI) indicating as many as 50 percent of Hispanics with diabetes exhibit symptoms of the condition. When compared to non-Hispanic whites, Hispanics are disproportionately affected by eye disease in general.
Without proper screening methods, minority patients are leaving themselves open to the dangers of a condition in which blood vessels within the eye swell and leak fluid. Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy may not be immediately severe, however, once the condition progresses, visual impairment and blindness are the natural result.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) may help reduce some of the issues seen over the previous decade in regards to how medical expenses delay treatment; the Department of Health and Human Services indicates as many as 8 out of 10 uninsured Hispanics may now qualify for some form of care under the new health law. Minorities can also see in-person consultations regarding health care coverage to ensure certain areas of care, like eye health, are included in the new insurance packages.