To determine gaps in knowledge and barriers to care for diabetic eye disease in Hispanic individuals in Baltimore, Maryland.
Interviews with a random sample of self-reported Hispanic individuals (n = 349), and a convenience sample of Hispanic individuals with diabetes (n = 204). Four groups were constructed: without diabetes, with and without a family history of diabetes, newly diagnosed with diabetes, and diagnosed with diabetes more than 1 year before the study.
Less than 10% of participants preferred reading in English; 50% reported having providers who do not speak Spanish as a barrier to care. Knowledge of eye disease as a consequence of diabetes was reported by 18% of nondiabetic participants with no family history, 29% of nondiabetic participants with a family history, 36% of newly diagnosed diabetic patients, and 52% of participants diagnosed with diabetes more than 1 year before the study. Only 16%, 28%, 13%, and 34%, respectively, knew that strict control could prevent eye problems, and 33%, 51%, 31%, and 48%, respectively, knew that dilated eye examinations were important. A total of 30% of diabetic participants had had an eye examination in the previous year.
Knowledge of the ocular complications of diabetes is low. The frequency of eye examinations among Hispanic individuals with diabetes is less than the national average for Hispanic individuals. Culturally appropriate health education and innovations to reduce barriers to eye care are needed.