In an effort to address one of the many health risks
associated with a high rate of diabetes among Baltimore's
growing Hispanic community, Johns Hopkins'
Institute, Catholic Charities' Hispanic Apostolate and
the Johns Hopkins
Bloomberg School of Public Health's
Center for Communication
Programs have joined forces to help Hispanics better
understand how diabetes affects their eyes and can damage
their vision if left untreated.
The National Eye Institute awarded the three
organizations — known collectively as the Pro Vision
Project — $2.5 million over four years to tackle this
problem affecting the largest growing minority group in the
United States, where the Latino population is expected to
double by 2025.
According to studies, one in five adult Latinos (age
40 and older) have diabetes, and nearly half of those (47
percent) have diabetic retinopathy, a diabetic eye disease
that can result in vision loss. Yet 15 percent of those
with diabetes are unaware of their condition, and 9 percent
of those have moderate to severe diabetic retinopathy as
well. Timely and appropriate treatment can be effective in
preventing loss of vision.
"We recognize that there are many factors, including
economic factors, that prevent Latinos from seeking
treatment for their diabetes and associated eye problems,"
said Wilmer's Sheila West, principal investigator for Pro
Vision and a professor in the
School of Medicine. "That's why we plan to work with
the Latino community to learn how they receive health
information and the factors that influence them in seeking
eye care and then design a health information program and
supportive system to meet their needs."
The Hispanic Apostolate will facilitate the outreach
to identify and educate diabetic people within the Latino
community, while the Wilmer Eye Institute will use its
world-renowned eye health expertise along with CCP's
behavior change communication strategies to develop and
disseminate health education messages and materials on
diabetes and diabetic retinopathy to Baltimore's Latino
Pro Vision will begin by conducting research to
determine gaps in knowledge and perceived barriers to
appropriate eye care for diabetic eye disease, and then
will use an interactive process with the community to
design health education messages, materials and
dissemination systems. The project also plans to use
community-based channels of communication to disseminate
the health education messages that aim to increase
knowledge, help remove barriers to access and enhance
Ultimately, Pro Vision will evaluate its efforts and
develop a model for reaching Latino populations with health
messages that can be packaged for replication in other
areas with growing Latino populations.