November is Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month and we are observing this month and urging all diabetics to have a dilated eye exam every year. Do you know if you are at risk for blindness due to diabetes? Here are some facts to know about diabetes and diabetic eye disease:
There are 29 million Americans that have diabetes.
- 10 million of those who have diabetes are at risk for vision loss because they do not know they have the disease.
- Diabetic retinopathy, cataracts and glaucoma all affect those with diabetes.
- 5.3 million Americans have been diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy.
- Diabetic Retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness among working-age Americans.
Many patients diagnosed with diabetes do not comply with vision care guidelines. The longer a person has diabetes, the greater the risk for diabetic eye disease. Patients can develop diabetic retinopathy, get cataracts at a younger age, and chances of developing glaucoma are doubled. Because November is Diabetic Disease Awareness Month, we are increasing the awareness and urging all patients with diabetes to get a dilated eye exam every year with an ophthalmologist.
Patients who keep their blood sugar under strict control can decrease their risk of many complications associated diabetic eye disease. The HbA1c goal for diabetic patients is below 7%. High or unstable blood sugar can damage the blood vessels in the retina, which can lead to fluid leakage, vision loss or blindness. People with diabetes can also reduce their risk of diabetic retinopathy by maintaining healthy blood pressure. High blood pressure levels increase the risk of vision loss from diabetic retinopathy.
Diabetic Retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness among working-age Americans. In both early and advanced cases of diabetic retinopathy, laser treatments and injectables have been shown to reduce the risk of severe vision loss and blindness. These treatments do not cure diabetic retinopathy or guarantee prevention of future vision loss, but they are our best hope for preserving vision. They are dependent upon blood sugar and blood pressure to be well controlled.
Early detection and treatment can usually prevent permanent vision loss. Yearly dilated eye exams by an ophthalmologist are crucial for protecting vision in patients with diabetes. Also pregnant women with diabetes should have an eye exam in the first trimester because diabetic eye disease can progress quickly during pregnancy. If a diabetic eye disease has been detected more frequent medical eye examinations may be necessary.
If you have diabetes please see an ophthalmologist once every year. Remember early detection and treatment leads to healthy eyesight!
This message was brought to you by Friedberg Eye Associates, P.A. and the American Academy of Ophthalmology.