Increasing Diversity, Equity And Inclusion In Ophthalmology Research

How can we reduce disparities in clinical trials and patient care?

Nearly 40 million people in the United States have diabetes, which can cause eye diseases such as diabetic retinopathy (DR) and diabetic macular edema. These are the two leading causes of new cases of blindness in America. According to data from the CDC, 1 in 3 people with diabetes over the age of 40 have DR, and people of color are disproportionately impacted. The vision-threatening form of this condition is more than twice as common in Mexican Americans, and almost three times as common in African-Americans, than among whites.

Genentech is investing in efforts to make eye care more equitable and to reduce disparities.

Increasing representation in clinical trials is one essential step. To that end, we have launched a first-of-its-kind retina study called Elevatum for underrepresented patients with diabetic macular edema. We also conduct a number of other DEI-focused efforts in Ophthalmology, including a robust series of mentorship programs for young doctors and scientists to encourage a diverse future for the field. But we know there is still a lot of work to do, especially when it comes to clinical research and care in ophthalmology.

Learn More

Ophthalmology leaders offer their responses to the challenge of attaining equitable care for all

Part of taking a step forward is having meaningful and open conversations. Genentech and leading ophthalmology experts came together to discuss barriers to eye care and improving diversity, equity and inclusion in research during a LinkedIn Live panel, with opening remarks from Ophthalmology Principal Medical Director, Dr. Daniela Ferrera. We convened three leaders in ophthalmology to share their perspectives around inequities in access to care, diversity in clinical trials, and how we can collaborate across the field to address these challenges: Dr. Judy Kim, president of ASRS and professor of ophthalmology at the Medical College of Wisconsin; Dr. Adrienne Scott, Medical Director at the Wilmer Eye Institute, an associate professor at Johns Hopkins, and Elevatum study investigator; and Dr. Keith Carter, chairman and head of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at the University of Iowa and past-president of AAO. Watch the full event here.


Time and again we see that the patients enrolled in clinical trials do not match the population of patients who are affected by the disease itself – and certainly not the population most affected or more likely to have poorer outcomes. With the incidence of diabetic eye disease and associated health disparities continuing to rise among different patient populations, the need to make clinical trials more diverse is all the more urgent – and may help address these health disparities in a more effective, equitable way.


Increasing representation among participants in ophthalmology clinical trials is complex, but there are steps we can take now and in the future to address it. Encouraging greater diversity in clinical research and leading trials targeting historically underrepresented groups is one way to start. Being cognizant of trial design, including related aspects such as inclusion criteria, accessibility, and communication, might also support a more diverse group of participants.


Beyond building and executing more representative clinical trial research, there are other ways the healthcare community, with increased representation throughout the field of ophthalmology, can help ensure equitable eye care. This includes making screening for eye diseases more accessible in more communities, and supporting dialogue between patients, their loved ones and healthcare professionals.

At Genentech, we have witnessed the challenges of vision loss: how it can change lives, diminish freedom and disrupt opportunities for people to do what they love. We are committed to partnering across the ophthalmology community to increase representation in research so everyone can have a chance to preserve their sight and continue doing what’s important to them.