RNIB Scotland probes lower eye care take-up among BME people

RNIB Scotland launched a project yesterday to find out why people from ethnic minority backgrounds are less likely to access eye-care services.

In an attempt to encourage better take-up of services, researchers will map the prevalence and treatment of eye conditions such as diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma among people of South Asian, Chinese and Afro-Caribbean descent in Glasgow. The project, believed to be the first comprehensive analysis of ethnic minority eye health in Scotland, is funded by the Scottish government.

Existing research shows that people from some ethnic minority backgrounds are significantly more susceptible to major sight-threatening conditions. Some severe forms of glaucoma are more than three times more prevalent among people of Afro-Caribbean and Chinese descent.

Less likely to have eye exams

However, African and African-Caribbean communities are 20% less likely to have had an eye examination than the rest of the population.

Sikander Sidiki, consultant ophthalmologist at the Glasgow’s Gartnavel Hospital, said that language was often a barrier. He added: “In the UK, the main method of eye-disease detection is by high street opticians. But many people from ethnic minority backgrounds – particularly immigrants or first generation individuals – may not appreciate this. Many prefer to see their GP or an ophthalmologist, which may result in delay or inappropriate referral.”

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