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July 28, 2010

First EyeSmart™ EyeCheck Vision Screenings Conducted in Los Angeles

American Academy of Ophthalmology and Partners Work to Prevent Vision Loss in At-Risk Populations

SAN FRANCISCO — On July 25th, the American Academy of Ophthalmology (Academy) and its partners conducted the first EyeSmart™ EyeCheck vision screening. The program, which was announced in May, was created to combat undetected eye disease and visual impairment among at-risk populations in the United States. With new research from the Los Angeles Latino Eye Study (LALES) showing that Latinos have higher rates of visual impairment, the initial emphasis for the EyeSmart™ EyeCheck program is on the Latino community.

Twenty-nine volunteer ophthalmologists screened 499 patients at the Family Health Fair hosted by Lady Queen of Angels Church in downtown Los Angeles. The physicians discovered that more than 50 percent of the patients were afflicted by some type of visual impairment.

"The EyeSmart EyeCheck program is an important first step in addressing preventable vision loss in highly-affected communities," said Anne L. Coleman, MD, PhD, director of the Academy's H. Dunbar Hoskins Jr., MD, Center for Quality Eye Care, and the Fran and Ray Stark Professor of Ophthalmology and Professor of Epidemiology at the UCLA Jules Stein Eye Institute. "We were thrilled to be a part of an event that was able to give back so much to so many. We saw nearly 100 patients an hour and were able to direct those who needed follow-up care to additional resources such as EyeCare America."

The incidence of multiple diseases in this community and in other at-risk populations prompted the Academy to adopt and promote a different approach to adult vision screenings. The new screening methodology focuses on detecting damage from eye disease rather than screening for eye disease. By taking this approach the volunteer ophthalmologists at Sunday's EyeSmart EyeCheck event were able to see hundreds more patients than would have been possible through a traditional screening.

"Traditional adult vision screenings typically screen for a specific disease like glaucoma or cataracts," added Dr. Coleman. "To get the greatest benefit from a screening, it made sense to screen broadly for functional visual impairment. This allows us to screen more individuals in a given time."

The Academy's EyeSmart EyeCheck program is working with EyeCare America and local health departments and community clinics to provide sources for care once a diagnosis is made. EyeCare America, a public service program of the Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, offers free eye care services to qualifying patients [www.eyecareamerica.org ]. In addition, EyeSmart EyeCheck is working with local hospitals, community clinics and health departments to steer patients to follow-up treatment and care.

The screenings were coordinated at the local level with the support of state and local ophthalmology organizations, hospitals and community partners. The first pilot screening was organized in partnership with the UCLA Jules Stein Eye Institute, the USC Doheny Eye Institute, the California Academy of Eye Physicians and Surgeons, the Los Angeles Society of Ophthalmology and QueensCare, a non-profit healthcare charity offering health care services to the Los Angeles community and sponsor of the health fair.

About the American Academy of Ophthalmology
AAO is the world's largest association of eye physicians and surgeons—Eye M.D.s—with more than 29,000 members worldwide. Eye health care is provided by the three “O’s”— opticians, optometrists and ophthalmologists. It is the ophthalmologist, or Eye M.D., who can treat it all: eye diseases and injuries, and perform eye surgery. To find an Eye M.D. in your area, visit the Academy's Web site at www.aao.org

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