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Eye health drive to help people from Black and Minority Ethnic backgrounds

This press release was published under the 2011 - 2016 Welsh government

The Welsh Government is calling on people from Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) backgrounds to use a special free service to check the health of their eyes.
Monday 30 November 2015

It comes as a new report shows 1 in 10 people from a BME background over the age of 65 will experience serious sight loss.

Asian and Black ethnic groups are at greater risk of eye diseases, such as glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy compared to other ethnic groups and are more likely to become blind.

However, evidence also suggests Asian and Black communities in the UK are less likely to attend for primary eye care appointments despite the increased risk of sight loss.

In Wales, the Welsh Government funded ‘This Eye Care Health Examination’ service exists for people from BME backgrounds to have a free, at the point of access, eye health examination. The service is provided by opticians, but is under used by those from BME backgrounds.

A Welsh Government supported research project between Sight Cymru, RNIB Cymru, Public Health Wales and Cardiff University has examined how to best raise awareness amongst communities.  The scheme is working to raise  awareness amongst BME communities and has already led to an increased uptake of eye health examinations.

The Deputy Minister for Health Vaughan Gething said:

“At present one in ten people from a black and minority ethnic background over the age of 65 will experience serious sight loss. The unfortunate truth is that they are more likely to present themselves late for help with their sight problem and are therefore more likely to go blind as a result.

“It should shock all of us that in today’s Wales your chances of suffering sight loss are so clearly linked to your ethnic origin. It cannot be right that groups with the greatest risk of sight loss are less likely to use a service that could save their sight.

“We have a great primary eye care system unique to Wales, the Eye Health Examination Wales Service, free for people from BME communities because they are at a higher risk of eye disease. The eye health examinations will detect eye disease and ensure referral to hospital eye services for anyone who needs specialist treatment. Not everyone entitled to these extended eye health examinations are using the service and we want more people to come forward.

“This project is aimed at increasing awareness and has already had some success in increasing take up of what is on offer. We will continue to work closely with the likes of the Sight Cymru, RNIB Cymru, Public Health Wales and others to spread the message.”

RNIB Cymru Director Ceri Jackson said:

"At RNIB we know that 50% of all sight loss is avoidable with early detection and treatment.

"Thanks to this project we now know much more about how we can encourage people in BME communities, often those most at risk of eye disease, to attend eye exams and look after their eyes.

"We're delighted to have led the project on behalf of Public Health Wales and to have worked with partners and dedicated BME community volunteer champions to make this successful. We're now looking forward to rolling out the findings and progress the recommendations with them."



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Health and social services 30 November 2015 Programme for Government - Healthcare Mid Wales North Wales South East Wales South West Wales

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