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Genentech, American Diabetes Association partner to increase equitable access to eye health care


Lessons learned from a pilot will inform future collaborative work between the ADA and Genentech to improve health equity in eye care for people living with diabetes.

an older woman wearing glasses with diabetes checking her blood sugar levels.

(Image Credit: AdobeStock/Dragana Gordic)

Genentech is partnering with the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and as part of the ADA's Health Equity Now to tackle access to screening and treatment for eye diseases that affect the diabetes community.

Diabetes is the leading cause of vision loss in people ages 18 to 64, and African Americans, American Indians, Alaska Natives, Hispanics/Latinos, and older adults living with diabetes are at higher risk of losing their vision or going blind.1 Comprehensive eye exams play a crucial role in the prevention, early detection, and intervention of eye disease and vision loss caused by diabetes, yet many in these communities either don't receive or don't have appropriate access to eye health care.

"For people living with diabetes, a regular eye exam is a must to prevent or delay vision loss caused by diabetes," Charles "Chuck" Henderson, CEO of the ADA, said in a news release. "Sadly, health inequities have led to many people not receiving the eye care and treatment they need. Through this community-based program made possible by Genentech, we will identify the barriers to eye health, address those barriers, and support community awareness through screenings and education."

The programming will kick off with a pilot in Birmingham, Alabama in collaboration with community partners to conduct focus groups with African Americans to understand the barriers to eye health in under-resourced communities and provide resources, including education and screenings, to address these barriers. Lessons learned from this pilot will inform future collaborative work between the ADA and Genentech to improve health equity in eye care for people living with diabetes.

"Health disparities are a deep-rooted and systemic challenge," Alexander Hardy, CEO of Genentech, said in a news release. "Genentech is proud to support the ADA's Health Equity Now program as an important step forward in driving better eye care for all patients. This builds on our commitment to address inequities by advancing inclusive research in ophthalmology, expanding diversity in the field, and improving equitable access to care."

This partnership brings together the ADA's and Genentech's shared dedication to health equity and long-standing commitment to people living with diabetes-related eye disease. A pioneer in the field, Genentech continues to research and develop treatments for conditions such as diabetic macular edema (DME) and diabetic retinopathy, which can cause visual impairment and blindness if left untreated. In 2022, Genentech launched ELEVATUM, a first-of-its-kind study with one of its medicines in underrepresented patients with DME.

1. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/preventing-problems/diabetic-eye-disease
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