It’s no secret that African Americans have been hit harder than any other group by COVID-19. However, even before the pandemic, we knew that the Black community was at a disadvantage in the healthcare system.

According to Cigna, a leading healthcare provider, Black people are 80 percent more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes, and 20 percent more likely to have visual impairments. Black women are also 40 percent more likely to die from breast cancer.

Dr. Danielle Richardson, an LA-based optometrist at Zak, is trying to help reduce these disparities. Dr. Richardson is a glaucoma-certified therapeutic optometrist and hails from Indianapolis, Indiana. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Indiana University Bloomington and a Doctor of Optometry degree from Indiana University School of Optometry.

She is also licensed to practice optometry in New York, Texas, and California. Dr. Richardson is passionate about educating communities of color about the importance of proper vision care and its relation to general health and wellbeing. Good vision is valuable in its own right, but a person’s eyes can tell a lot about their overall health. 

“Eye exams play a critical role in the prevention and early detection of diabetes and other chronic conditions. Signs of diabetes can be detected with an eye exam several years before a person shows symptoms of the disease,” she said.

Dr. Richardson isn’t just focused on education; she’s also passionate about access. In addition to providing care at her Los Angeles practice, she is one of 8,500 VSP network doctors who support VSP Eyes of Hope, a program that “provides no-cost eye care and eyewear to people across the U.S. impacted by income, distance or disaster.”

She also points out that even without insurance, eye exams are relatively inexpensive when compared to other medical services, but can help people identify a myriad of health issues in their early stages.    

While routine eye care may not be a top priority during the COVID-19 crisis, it should certainly become a part of everyone’s personal healthcare routine when society returns to normal operations. 

For more information about Dr. Richardson and her work, visit her website, or follow her on Instagram