CALIFORNIA INITIATIVE TO COMBAT DIABETIC RETINOPATHY LAUNCHES ON WORLD SIGHT DAY

CALIFORNIA INITIATIVE TO COMBAT DIABETIC RETINOPATHY LAUNCHES ON WORLD SIGHT DAY

Lions Clubs International Campaigns Against A Leading Cause Of Blindness, Affecting Latino Population In Los Angeles Area


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Los Angeles, CA–(HISPANIC PR WIRE)–October 9, 2002–Alarmed by the burgeoning number of Californians in danger of going blind due to diabetes, Lions Clubs International (LCI) is launching a comprehensive initiative for diabetic retinopathy education focused on southern California. The Southern California Lions Eye Health and Screening Initiative will launch on Lions World Sight Day, October 10.

According to the California Diabetes Control Program, almost half of diabetes patients in Los Angeles County are Latino. LCI’s diabetic retinopathy education and prevention program in the Los Angeles area will focus on the Latino population and feature educational material and free eye screenings conducted by local healthcare professionals at the Alex Esquivel Center in Montebello, Calif., beginning on October 10. Mobile screening units from throughout southern California will travel to the Los Angeles area to kick off the initiative.

The American Diabetes Association reports that 17 million Americans have diabetes, of which 5.9 million are undiagnosed. Two million diabetics reside in California – one of the highest prevalence rates in the country. By 2020, the number of diabetes patients in California is expected to double to four million.

“Every one of the two million people in the state of California battling diabetes faces a high risk of vision loss,” says Lions Clubs International President Kay Fukushima, a California resident.” According to the Braille Institute, almost 200,000 southern Californians already suffer from severe visual impairment. We are starting this program in southern California where diabetic retinopathy education is needed most. We cannot stress enough the importance of regular diabetes and eye screenings for early detection to prevent blindness.”

The initiative aims to bolster Latinos’ understanding of diabetes and diabetic retinopathy, one of the most devastating long-term complications of the disease and a leading cause of blindness in the United States. Through a $100,000 grant from Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) and Eli Lilly and Company, Lions mobile screening units in southern California will be upgraded with the latest technology that will allow them to detect retinal disease. These mobile units will focus on screening high-risk populations, including Latinos.

LCI is developing new eye health education material in Spanish and English, which will be available for nationwide distribution by the end of the year. Also launching at Lions World Sight Day will be a major new public service campaign in Spanish and English that will highlight the importance of talking with a healthcare professional and getting annual eye exams. The campaign, made possible through an educational grant from Eli Lilly and Company, will provide print PSAs for Lions clubs to place in their communities throughout the US.

Recent research by the Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF)

shows that 60 percent of diabetes patients are not worried about major complications from diabetes, although 74 percent of people with diabetes will, in fact, develop complications such as diabetic retinopathy, one of the leading causes of blindness.

“The LCIF research tells us that 70 percent of people wish for more effective means of treating diabetes-related complications,” says Dr. Dave Hill, Los Angeles area optometrist. “Prevention begins with education and early detection of diabetes. This initiative is being launched on Lions World Sight Day in southern California where the need for education is at an all-time high.”

Lions World Sight Day

Launched globally in 1998, Lions World Sight Day has built upon LCI’s cornerstone initiative for eyesight preservation and restoration, addressing concerns such as pediatric blindness, river blindness, cataract and glaucoma in Brazil, China, and the UK. As the service organization with the largest global reach, LCIF and LCI have provided more than $100 million for nearly 300 sight-related grants, trained 14,000 healthcare workers, completed 2.3 million cataract surgeries and treated 20.5 million people for river blindness since Lions World Sight Day launched in October 1998. LCIF currently has worldwide programs in place for another 70,000 healthcare workers to receive training and for an additional 2.8 million cataract surgeries.

Free screenings will take place on Lions World Sight Day, October 10, from 4:00-8:00 p.m. at the Alex Esquivel Center, located at 115 South Taylor Avenue in Montebello, Calif.

Lions Clubs International is the world’s largest service club organization, with nearly 1.4 million members in approximately 44,600 clubs in 190 countries and geographical areas around the world. Since 1917, Lions clubs have aided the blind and visually impaired and made a strong commitment to community service and serving youth throughout the world.

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CONTACT:

Lions Clubs International

Dane La Joye

630-571-5466

or

Ketchum

Desiree Koh

312-228-6847

CALIFORNIA INITIATIVE TO COMBAT DIABETIC RETINOPATHY LAUNCHES ON WORLD SIGHT DAY