UNDERSTANDING THE NEED
All of your patients have a few things in common. They all want to be treated like individuals and with respect. And, they all want the best possible eyecare experience and treatment outcome. But despite these similarities, your culturally diverse patients have unique needs that – if not understood – could impact the level of care they receive.
First, many ethnic minorities are at greater risk for eye- and overall-health issues that can impact their vision. Unfortunately, these groups are often less likely to understand their risks, and to take steps to protect their sight for the future. Consider that:
- Two out of three Americans don’t know their ethnicity could be putting them at higher risk.
- Just 4 out of 10 Americans have visited their eye doctor within the past year.
- Ethnic minorities (especially Hispanics) are more likely to believe that UV eye protection is only important during the spring and summer months – and African Americans are the most likely to do nothing to protect their eyes from the sun.
- While at higher risk for myopia, Asian Americans are the least likely to make an eye appointment when having trouble seeing far away – and the most likely to believe that wearing glasses can make their vision get worse.
Additionally, language and cultural barriers can make it difficult for at-risk groups to receive the best possible care. Consider that while many Hispanics and Asian Americans speak English well, some don’t speak English at all, or prefer to communicate in another language. Varied levels of acculturation can also impact the way you communicate with your patients. For example, first-generation Hispanics may practice more traditional Hispanic values, while third-generation Hispanics may identify as more American. Understanding how to address these unique needs can help you better serve and retain your culturally diverse patients – and attract new ones to your practice.