Vision Issues & Amerindian Lineage
Study Helps Prevent
Vision Problems in
Young Native Americans
BY VICKI B. GAUBECA
Many Native American children have an improved
chance for better vision thanks to the joint efforts of the
University of Arizona Health Sciences Center's Department
of Ophthalmology and sponsorship by the Tohono
O'Odham Nation and the Indian Health Service.
UA researchers have found that as many as one-third of
the children in the Tohono O'Odham Nation, a Native
American tribe in Southwestern Arizona, need glasses,
and one in eight has amblyopia or "lazy eye,"
a condition in which a person with a healthy, normal
eye cannot see well, even when wearing glasses.
Amblyopia may be caused by crossed or misaligned
eyes or by a need for corrective eyeglasses.
Without a focused image on the retina between birth
and 7 years of age, vision development is interrupted
and children may suffer from irreversible eye damage.
Preventing amblyopia is as simple as making an
early diagnosis and wearing corrective eyeglasses.
"For unknown reasons, many Native American tribes
are found to have high levels of astigmatism," explains
Joseph M. Miller, M. D., associate professor in the
UA Department of Ophthalmology and principal
investigator for a study to determine the best
way to identify preschool children at risk.
The study is funded by the National Eye Institute,
part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
"Unfortunately, if children who need glasses
because of astigmatism do not wear these
before the age of 7, amblyopia can develop."
Causes of Visual Impairment and
Common Eye Problems in Northwest
American Indians and Alaska Natives
Little information exists regarding the causes of visual impairment and the
most common eye problems in American Indians/Alaska Natives.
We randomly sampled American Indians/Alaska Natives
older than 40 years from 3 tribes within the Northwest region.
We found a higher prevalence of visual impairment
and normal-tension glaucoma, as well as a lower
prevalence of ocular hypertension, in American Indians/Alaska
Natives compared with previous results in other racial/ethnic groups.
American Indians/Alaska Natives have a need for vision correction.
Future interventions in American Indians/Alaska Natives should
include providing spectacles for refractive error, detecting
glaucoma, and preventing visual impairment from
age-related maculopathy and cataracts.
- Something else I didn't know! I wonder why it is, though,
that there is a higher incidence of astigmatism in
these groups, as opposed to others?! Hmmmm. Curious.....