avis_jones_deweever_web.jpgWASHINGTON (PRNewswire) — The National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) is making eye health an important component to its health programming to address the higher risk among African Americans for many eye- and overall-health issues that can impact vision.

One of the goals of this focus is to drive awareness about the importance of getting a regular eye exam and protecting eyes from the sun. A recent study showed that less than half of African Americans had an eye exam within the past year. The study also found that only 7 percent of African Americans know that extended exposure to the sun (a risk for cataracts) can damage the eyes, and that African Americans are the most likely demographic group to say they do nothing to protect their eyes from the sun.

The NCNW featured vision care at its Black Family Reunion Celebration the last two years with more than 500 attendees receiving free vision screenings sponsored by Transitions Optical, Inc., maker of Transitions lenses. In 2012 NCNW is expanding efforts to reach the

community with eye health information through additional channels, including the NCNW chapter network and national conferences with support from Transitions Optical.

“I was pleased to have been approached by Transitions Optical to launch an eye health awareness campaign realizing the magnitude of vision issues and diseases that affect our community at such high numbers,” said Avis Jones-DeWeever, executive director, NCNW. “We will be making sure that vision care is addressed throughout our health outreach efforts in the future.”

African Americans reportedly are 1.5 times more likely to suffer from cataracts than the general population, and are five times more likely than Caucasians to develop glaucoma. They are also at higher risk for overall health issues, such as diabetes, hypertension and HIV/AIDS, all of which can have serious implications for vision.

NCNW has launched a section on its website providing eye health information and resources at ncnw.org/resources/health.htm. An educational brochure called What to Expect: African American Eyes, along with other materials sponsored by Transitions Optical, are available for download.

“We hope these efforts will help our community better understand that making sure eyes are healthy and protected is an important component to overall health,” added Jones-DeWeever. “I encourage everyone to utilize our resources and learn more about what they can do to maintain healthy sight.”

Photo: Avis Jones-DeWeever