The American Diabetes Association® (ADA), a sponsor of the 2023 Magic City Classic (MCC), and Genentech, anchor partner of the ADA’s Health Equity Now® program, launched the Eye Pledge to Fight DiabetesThis program encourages people with diabetes and their loved ones to get an annual eye exam, which are shown to help reduce the risk of diabetes-related vision loss.

Diabetes-related eye disease affects around 8 million Americans and is the leading cause of vision loss for people aged 18 to 64. The ADA has partnered with Genentech to address the health inequities that drive the disproportionate impact of diabetes-related eye disease in Black and Brown communities.

“Diabetes and related eye disease disproportionately impacts under-resourced communities. That’s why we’re proud to partner with Genentech to raise awareness and provide support for people to get the care they need,” said Charles “Chuck” Henderson, CEO of the ADA. “Regular eye screenings and treatment can prevent 95% of vision loss caused by diabetes, and I encourage everyone to take the eye pledge, get an eye exam, and spread the word.”  

The Eye Pledge to Fight Diabetes builds on the ADA and Genentech’s Health Equity Now partnership, which kicked off in 2023 with a pilot program in Birmingham, Alabama, an area with a high prevalence of diabetes and prediabetes. Over 568,000 adults are living with diabetes and 1,316,000 (nearly 35% of the population) live with prediabetes in Alabama. The program engages community and faith-based organizations to understand barriers to receiving care and to provide diabetes, health, and eye screenings in under-resourced communities in and around the MCC. By studying barriers to eye health care in Birmingham, the ADA and partners can use those learnings to drive change, not just in Alabama, but in under-resourced communities across the country.

“At Genentech, we deeply understand the challenges of vision loss and the impact it has on the lives of patients living with diabetes,” said Fritz Bittenbender, head of U.S. Public Affairs at Genentech. “That’s why the eye pledge is so important — it’s a simple commitment people can make with a big impact to help them protect their vision. I hope people nationwide join us in the fight and take the pledge.”