Research Suggests Latinos at Highest Risk for Eye Disease

Genetics, Diet, Lifestyle and Lack of Health Care Key Elements

Jun 01, 2010, 11:02 ET from Eye Physicians of Long Beach

LONG BEACH, Calif., June 1 /PRNewswire/ -- New research suggests Latinos have the highest rates of eye disease in the United States, and one Los Angeles area clinic, Eye Physicians of Long Beach, is supremely prepared to meet the community's eye care needs.

The findings, part of a recent study by the U.S. National Eye Institute, show Latinos' rates of visual impairment and blindness are higher than any other ethnic group in the nation. The research also found 34 percent of its participants, which included about 4,600 people from the Los Angeles area, had diabetes and developed diabetic retinopathy, a condition most common among patients between 40 and 59 years old.

Alarmingly, the study also found many don't realize they suffer from the most common eye maladies such as cataracts, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy.

"There's a great opportunity here to serve the community, and I feel a strong urge to do more to help people who are suffering," said Dr. Carlos Martinez with Eye Physicians of Long Beach, the only practice in the city to offer all-laser iLASIK with Intralase.

Martinez feels a special calling to serve the area's 4.7-million member Latino community. Latinos have higher rates of high eye disease for many reasons, including their unique genetics, diet and lifestyle, he said. Also, a lack of access to health care may affect the rate.

But his drive to serve is deeper than that. The child of Cuban immigrants, he grew up in Madrid, Barcelona, and Puerto Rico, and knows first-hand the problems Latinos face in the United States.

"Sixty percent of eye disease in Latinos is undiagnosed, and eighty-two percent of those who have glaucoma and ninety-two percent of those with diabetic retinopathy," he said. "It is difficult to treat that which patients aren't aware of, and they're unlikely to seek care if they don't know they're sick."

He urged the Latino community to consider his practice when deciding on eye care. In addition to the latest technology in ophthalmology, Eye Physicians of Long Beach has bilingual doctors, including Martinez, who speaks Spanish along with many of the practice's staff members, and James Donovan, who speaks French.

Eye Physicians of Long Beach also has the best technology available to help its patients, including every diagnostic instrument available today such as intravenous fluorescent angiography and a surgery center specializing in cataract surgery. The practice also features one of the latest developments in fighting farsightedness, Crystalens intraocular lens implants.

Plus, Martinez and his partner, Dr. Donovan, are among the most accomplished ophthalmologists in California, and they've been a part of the region for many years.

Martinez, an expert in laser vision correction, joined the practice in 1999. He attended medical school at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in New Orleans. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery, the California Medical Association, the International Society of Refractive Surgery and the Los Angeles County Medical Association.

He holds a master's degree in theoretical chemistry from Tulane where, as an undergraduate, he studied chemistry under the Nobel Laureate, Andrew Schally. He has also written numerous articles and book chapters in ophthalmology and has collaborated with the doctor who performed the world's first LASIK procedure, Ioannis G. Pallikaris.

Partner, James Donovan, went to medical school at Loyola University in Chicago, where he took an interest in sub-retinal implantation and participated in the testing of an artificial retina. He did his residency at the LSU Eye Center in New Orleans where he was Chief Resident his final year.

Donovan is a fellow of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery, the American College of Eye Surgeons, the Contact Lens Association of Ophthalmologists and the New Orleans Academy of Ophthalmology.

A specialist in cataract and refractive surgery, he joined Martinez in 2007 after practicing in New Orleans, Covington, La., as well as Carillo and Ventura, Calif.

About: Eye Physicians of Long Beach is located at 3325 Palo Verde Ave. For more information, visit its website at, for Spanish speakers or call 562-421-2757.

SOURCE Eye Physicians of Long Beach