Teleophthalmology to Improve Eye Health

Preserving vision in Milwaukee's Latino population through the use of teleophthalmology

Full Project Name:Teleophthalmology to Improve Eye Health Among Latinos: UCC-MCW-Marquette collaborationPrimary Community Organization:United Community CenterPrimary Academic Partner:Judy Kim, MD, Ophthalmology and Visual SciencesAward Amount:$200,000
Award Date
January2014
Project Duration:30 months

Project Description Narrative:


Diabetes affects more than 25 million people in the United States and may affect more than 115 million people by 2050. Along with other medical complications, diabetes is a leading cause of blindness. It is estimated that approximately 40% of people aged 40 and older with diabetes will develop eye disease. While studies have shown that timely screening and treatment can prevent 90% of vision loss from diabetes-related eye complication, many people with diabetes do not have annual eye exams.

Latino communities in particular are at an increased risk for vision loss. The Los Angeles Latino Eye Study (LALES) found that Latinos have higher rates of developing visual impairment, blindness, and diabetic eye disease than non-Hispanic whites — the highest rate of any ethnic group in the country. In Wisconsin, the Latino population has increased 74% in the last decade, with the greatest number residing in Milwaukee County. To better reach this growing population and overcome barriers to screening — including economic, geographic, cultural, and educational issues, as well as a lack of awareness — project partners aim to utlitize the promise of telemedicine to promote teleophtalmology to increase screening and facilitate improved eye care for Latinos in Milwaukee while also training the future health care workforce.

Community partners:
Marquette University(?), Milwaukee School of Engineering (?) Additional MCW academic partners:
Eileen Early, RN, BSN, Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences; Melissa DeNomie, MS, Family and Community Medicine; Zeno Franco, PhD, Family and Community Medicine

Outcomes & Lessons Learned:


• Established an advisory group that included representation from Latino-serving community organizations

• Conducted pre-screening focus groups with community members to understand knoweldge, attitudes, and behaviors around eye health and diabetes, using results to plan screening procedures and incorporate "health ambassadors" to recruit participants

• Completed training for United Community Center and MCW staff on taking retinal images in a community setting, ultimately screening more than 400 people throughout the project

• Engaged in numerous opportunities to promote project with the community, including the Spanish-language radio and community meetings, and presented the project at various professional meetings including the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology and Latino Medical Student Association Midwest Conference

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