A non-profit corporation called Latinos En Optometry (LEO) is looking to expand its membership and presence within the eyecare community.
Give me some background first.
The Latino community in the U.S. has grown 23% in the last 10 years (according to the 2020 U.S. Census); that number is expected to more than double within the next few decades.
While previous research has establish that racial and ethnic minority populations as a whole are at high risk for developing various ocular diseases and subsequent vision impairment, according to the National Eye Institute, the rates of vision loss and blindness caused by eye diseases among the Latino community in the U.S. are one of the highest in the country.
How about Latinos in optometry?
In the last 10+ years, the percentage of Latino/Hispanic optometrists has been on a steady increase in the U.S., from 3.6% in 2014 to nearly 6% in 2018. They currently account for 5.2% of all optometrists (in comparison: Whites [73%]; Asians [17%]; and Blacks/African-Americans [1.4%].
In education, as of 2022, Latino/Hispanic students and faculty account for 7.8% and 5.8%, respectively.
Tell me about LEO.
LEO was originally founded in 2021 by Diana Canto-Sims, OD, and Lawrence Chavrez as an organization to provide resources and continuing education for Latino optometry students and eyecare professionals. Further, it intends to offer support to eyecare professionals (ECPs) within the community as they develop their optometric practice, career, and lives.
As Chavez stated, LEO’s purpose includes being “committed to creating generational change to better serve the needs of Latinos now and 2020 years from now.”
What’s to come this year?
While the organization is planning an introductory event at the 2023 Vision Expo East in March, it is also open to new ideas that will support, develop, and serve LEO members as well as the Latino and eyecare community.
How can I find out more?
Check out this video, featuring LEO’s co-founder, Dr. Canto-Sims.
To learn about membership options, click here.