Although several eye diseases are prevalent in the African American population, the topic of having healthy eyes is often underdiscussed. The National Eye Institute, a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), reported that “African Americans are at higher risk for glaucoma at a much younger age than other populations.” Other eye diseases such a cataracts and diabetic retinopathy were also mentioned on The National Eye Institute’s website. African Americans were cited as having “some of the highest rates of vision loss and blindness caused by eye disease.”
Undergoing comprehensive dilated eye exams early was a strategy mentioned that assists in detecting eye diseases when treatment is easier. A doctor places eye drops in a patient’s eyes to widen (or dilate) his or her pupils. This method is how eye diseases can be checked.
The National Eye Institute added that habitually wearing sunglasses is another strategy to protect vision, even on cloudy days.
“Wearing sunglasses that block 99 to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB radiation can protect your eyes and lower your risk for cataracts,” per information provided on The National Eye Institute’s website.
Dr. Juliette Nelson, a Prince George’s County, Maryland resident, is providing support for individuals who want to better guard their eye health. Her gender-neutral eyewear line called NURILENS offers sustainable eyeglasses and sunglasses made by her company. The frames are primarily made of wood sourced from Asia, Africa, and the U.S. NURILENS’s glasses are crafted with blue-light blocking lenses that help protect eyes from side effects associated with staring at screens, such as digital eye strain. The sun is another source of blue light emission. This reality makes wearing sunglasses important since they aid in filtering it.
Nelson is an educator, entrepreneur, and published author who works as an industrial-organizational practitioner with a focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion. While serving as a passionate advocate for positive eye health in BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) communities, Nelson wants these individuals to become better stewards of their vision health. Encouraging people to obtain regular eye exams, and remain more attentive of other health factors that may impact vision, are a few ways that Nelson attempts to raise awareness about combating the prevalence of eye diseases.
“Last year, we started a blog segment on our site called NURI’s Optical Lab where we break down eye health-related topics for our audience and found that there is more that we can do in terms of building awareness in our communities,” Nelson said. “This year we’ve recently launched a podcast (called) VisioNURI where we will continue having these conversations (by) inviting eye care professionals and other individuals to speak on various topics related to vision health.”
Per The American Academy of Ophthalmology®, recommended frequency of ocular examinations depends on “the presence of visual abnormalities and the probability of visual abnormalities developing.” Although it is essential for individuals who experience ocular symptoms to receive prompt examinations, and for people who are at risk of developing ocular abnormalities to stay on top of their vision appointments, health status, family history, and a person’s age are other factors that could influence visual screening schedules. Individuals who have been diagnosed with diabetes and hypertension “require periodic comprehensive eye examinations to prevent or minimize visual loss.”
Making it possible for customers to look and feel great while wearing glasses is another manner Nelson fuses eye health with fashion and identity. She told The Baltimore Times that her Haitian American roots influence her desire to celebrate people for who they are through NURILENS. Nelson started the company out of her love for eyewear, and the need for cost-affordable vision solutions.
“In addition to the fashionable appeal that different types of wood material bring, wooden eyewear is a more environmentally sustainable choice than some other options. It is also lighter and doesn’t weigh down as much on the face as plastic frames. Additionally, it is less likely to slip off the face,” Nelson said. “I designed all of the frames we have in our collection.”
NURILENS can receive and process prescription orders. Items such as Au Naturel Wood Polish and Au Naturel Eyeglass Lens Cleaner are sold to enhance the enjoyment of wearing and caring for NURILENS glasses. Learn more about the handcrafted wooden eyewear via www.nurilens.co. Nuri’s Optical Lab is available by visiting https://nurilens.co/blogs/optical-lab.