In the past, diabetes among African-Americans could easily go undetected, until it had reached an advanced stage. But new research shows education efforts are paying off -- as fewer blacks and Hispanics unknowingly have diabetes. Eye on Health is taking a closer look in this week's Dealing with Diabetes report.
Retired North Las Vegas City Councilman, Theron Goynes, is the fourth out of five brothers to be diagnosed with diabetes. His older brother died from the disease.
Goynes recalls that years ago, many African-Americans had little understanding of diabetes and did not know that it's often hereditary.
"Say, he's got sugar. Well, they had to cut Mr. So & So's leg off -- they started at his ankle and worked on up to his knee. And nobody ever knew why amputations took on that course," he said.
Goynes says an understanding of diabetes among African-Americans has greatly improved for his own sons and grandchildren.
Las Vegas endocrinologist, James Snyder of Diabetes & Endocrinology Consultants says national initiatives in public health have made a big difference in minorities getting tested early on -- an important aspect when you're dealing with diabetes.
"So if you don't recognize it when it first comes on, you bear the risk of developing eye problems, kidney disease, nerve disease -- even before you know the problem is there," said Dr. Snyder.
At the same time, Dr. Snyder says there's still a problem with minority patients following through with their own diabetes care at home. As for Theron Goynes, he's making sure everyone in his family is aware of what's at stake.
"We're setting the groundwork for that now as grandparents, as their parents. You know what, your fast foods, your sugar intake," he said.
It's believed there are four to five million people in the U.S. who are unaware they have diabetes.
Theron Goynes, by the way, served for 22 years on the North Las Vegas City Council and 29 years as an elementary school principal. He has a park and a school named after him in North Las Vegas.
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