INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — An Indianapolis eye care center has opened what its operators are calling the first Latino-focused comprehensive eye care practice in central Indiana.
Representatives say the practice will provide care to underserved communities with little access to resources. The new location will be inside Alivio Medical Center, 2060 Shadeland Ave., just southwest of the I-465/I-70 interchange on the east side of town. It’s in an area that already sees a large base of Latino patients.
Doctors say there are many vision disparities in the Latino community, and they are ready to do the work to change that.
Nearly four decades of work have culminated in the new company. Abrams Eye Care is adding to its west side service by expanding to the east side.
Dr John Abrams, an ophthalmologist, said: “The community is obviously growing and it’s not deserved. It’s well known that Latinos tend to have serious illnesses that aren’t diagnosed and untreated until much later in the course of the illness, making it much harder to treat.
Abrams says several factors contribute to vision disparities in Latin American communities. Some stem from common medical issues in communities of color. “There are several eye diseases that are very common and have a higher incidence in people of color, particularly glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and even cataracts.”
But, a greater disparity may be language barriers and fear of cultural competence inside medical institutions.
Dr Rolando Mendoza, an optometrist, said: “Their language barrier is definitely a reason patients don’t seek help. I mean I’ve had patients, they tell me how to expect someone to see them and be able to help them in three months or six months.
Mendoza will run the East Side Eye Care Center. Growing up with parents who didn’t speak English, he knows the communication challenges that many Latin American families face.
“That’s why I’m really happy that we’re able to do this. Because we help people stay active in their community and be able to contribute,” Mendoza said.
The optometrist says people will often live with the pain or loss of vision, hoping for the best. Often, waiting makes the situation worse and leads to more disparities. Vision loss, he says, is one of the main reasons people can no longer work.
Abrams and Mendoza will open the new space on September 22.
Abrams said: ‘And it’s a bit of a philanthropic office trip to try to provide care for the undeserved. They just don’t have the resources or don’t have access to them.
The eye care facility has been open for a few months now, but its operators will meet the community during Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations this weekend.