Launch of Campaign drive to engage black and ethnic minority communities with eye care at the Pierhead Cardiff – 30th November 2015.

Launch of Campaign drive to engage black and ethnic minority communities with eye care at the Pierhead Cardiff – 30th November 2015.

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On Monday 30th November 2015 at Pierhead Building, Cardiff Bay we launched a campaign drive to engage Black and ethnic minority communities with eye care.  The event was organised by Sight Cymru in association with MEGAFOCUS, RNIB Cymru, Cardiff University, Public Health Wales and the Welsh Government.

It comes as a new report shows 1 in 10 people from a BME background over the age of 65 will experience serious sight loss.

Asian and Black ethnic groups are at greater risk of eye diseases, such as glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy compared to other ethnic groups and are more likely to become blind.

However, evidence also suggests Asian and Black communities in the UK are less likely to attend for primary eye care appointments despite the increased risk of sight loss.

In Wales, the Welsh Government funded ‘Eye Health Examinations Wales (EHEW)’ service exists for people from BME backgrounds to have a free, at the point of access, eye health examination. The service is provided by opticians, but is under used by those from BME backgrounds.

The Deputy Minister for Health Vaughan Gething said:

“It should shock all of us that in today’s Wales your chances of suffering sight loss are so clearly linked to your ethnic origin. It cannot be right that groups with the greatest risk of sight loss are less likely to use a service that could save their sight.

“We have a great primary eye care system unique to Wales, the Eye Health Examination Wales Service, free for people from BME communities because they are at a higher risk of eye disease. The eye health examinations will detect eye disease and ensure referral to hospital eye services for anyone who needs specialist treatment. Not everyone entitled to these extended eye health examinations are using the service and we want more people to come forward.

“This project is aimed at increasing awareness and has already had some success in increasing take up of what is on offer. We will continue to work closely with the likes of the Sight Cymru, RNIB Cymru, Public Health Wales and others to spread the message.”

The project has highlighted some key barriers in access such as language and lack of awareness of service and risk of sight loss within the communities. Successful collaborative work between community champions and eye health professionals in delivering eye health messages took place. Optometric advisors will continue working with communities to improve engagement.

Sharon Beckett, Chief Executive Director of Sight Cymru said:

“We are delighted to be leading on this work in Wales and have been successfully working with many organisations like RNIB Cymru, Cardiff University, Public Health Wales and a number of third sector organisations in delivering community eye health champions, BME Health Fair events, schools projects and clubs like Sight Life to support minority community members through sight loss.”

“The work is far from complete as around 50% of sight loss  is preventable.   We will continue to monitor the needs of the communities at high risk of losing their sight.   Thankfully project managers like Bablin Molik continue to help people engage with eye care service in Wales regardless of their ethnicity.”

Notes:

In Wales, Asian/Asian British account for the second largest ethnic group with 2.3% of the population. Black/African/Caribbean/Black British are fourth with 0.6% of the population.

In cities, such as Cardiff, Black and Asian ethnic groups make up a much larger percentage of the population with 10.4% in total.