Do you know the story of how Black History Month came into being? In September 1915, historian Carter Woodson and Minister Jesse E. Moorland established the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH). The newly established group sponsored a Negro History Week in February 1926, coinciding with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. By the late 1960s, Negro History Week evolved into Black History month on many college campuses. Gerald R. Ford officially recognized Black History Month in 1976, and asked Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” Since 1976, every president in the United States has officially designated February as Black History Month (Source: History).
As Americans, we should all feel a sense of pride during Black History Month. It is important to remember our history and ethnicity, and this relates to our health as well. There are many diseases and conditions to which African Americans are more prone, such as diabetes, asthma, cancer, stroke, hypertension, lung disease and eye disease. Here are some common conditions that affect the eyes:
Cataracts are a clouding of the lens of the eye. African Americans are 1.5 times more likely to develop cataracts than the general population and five times more likely to develop related blindness.
Glaucoma refers to a family of diseases that affect the optic nerve and cause vision loss. African Americans are five times more likely than whites to develop glaucoma and four times more likely to develop related blindness.
African American adults are twice as likely as non-Hispanic whites to be diagnosed with diabetes and twice as likely to develop and die from diabetes-related complications. Diabetes can cause diabetic retinopathy, a condition that can lead to retinal damage and permanent vision loss.
Even though hypertension may not seem to be related to the eyes, high blood pressure can cause vision problems and vision loss. African American adults are more likely to be diagnosed with hypertension but less likely to have the condition under control (Source: Vision Problems).
Black History Month is truly a time to celebrate, so what better way to celebrate than to schedule a comprehensive eye exam? An eye exam does much more than evaluate the clarity of your vision; it can serve as a window into your overall health. Celebrate good health this February by getting a thorough vision screening!