University Study Finds Many Blacks in Alabama Lack Access to Eye Care Practitioners

A survey by researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham for the Eyesight Foundation of Alabama found that many rural communities in the state are isolated from eye care practitioners. Many of these areas with limited access to eye care professionals are in counties with predominantly Black populations.

Previous research has shown that African Americans in Alabama are twice as likely as Whites to suffer from vision impairment and eye disease, particularly cataracts, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy.

Paul MacLennan, an assistant professor of surgery at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and lead author of the study, stated, ““Diversity among health care providers has been shown to help break down barriers to care, improve communication and increase the use of preventive eye care. Enhanced racial diversity among eye care providers, particularly a larger number of African-American providers, could have positive benefits on eye health in the state.”

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