Alabama clinics offer free vision screening for rural areas

Alabama clinics offer free vision screening for rural areas

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — A program meant to prevent vision loss among some of Alabama’s most vulnerable residents will provide free vision screening and testing in rural communities.

Offered as part of a study by University of Alabama at Birmingham researchers, the program already has treated more than 100 people at Cahaba Medical Care clinics in Maplesville and Marion, UAB said in an announcement, and it will expand to include a clinic in Centreville in June.

Studies have shown that poor, Black and Hispanic people are disproportionately at risk for problems that can cause blindness. In rural areas where few eye care providers work, many people delay getting eye exams, said Dr. Lindsay A. Rhodes.

“We hope that bringing our vision screening to people close to where they live will lead to earlier detection, follow-up eye care, and treatment of glaucoma, cataracts and diabetic retinopathy in people who may not have access to regular eye exams,” said Rhodes, who teaches ophthalmology at UAB and is the lead researcher looking at improving such care through telemedicine.

Screening results and images gathered at the rural sites are sent electronically to researchers at UAB, who review them for any problems.

Cahaba Medical Care patients who are Black or Hispanic and age 40 and older are eligible to participate along with non-Hispanic whites over 50 and anyone with diabetes or a family history of glaucoma who is at least 18.