It’s National Diabetes Month, everyone. We’ve got an idea for the hottest celebration in town:
Don’t get too excited. Okay fine — National Diabetes Month is not quite New Years Eve, but the National Institute of Health and the National Eye Institute are making a big push to make sure everyone in America — not just those suffering from or at risk of diabetes gets regular eye exams. For good reasons too.
Just look at the stats:
- Nearly 57 million Americans are at risk of getting diabetes
- By 2050 nearly 100 million are expected to be at risk of developing diabetes
- Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness among working-age adults in America
- Nearly 29 percent of all American adults over the age of 40 with diabetes are afflicted with a condition callled diabetic retinopathy, where the retina’s blood vessels swell and leak fluid
- Regular eye exams are credited with contributing a significant drop diabetic retinopathy. Nearly 24 percent of diabetes patients suffered from eye problems in 1997. In 2010, just 17 percent suffered from eye problems.
Eye exams are one of the best ways to both detect and diagnose early-stage eye problems that stem from diabetes, when treatment is more likely to work. Unfortunately, many diabetes patients aren’t heeding the warnings: In fact, WebMD reports that as little as 63 percent of diabetes patients actually bother to see their eye doctors for annual eye exams.
“Continued efforts are needed to sustain and improve the declining trends in self-reported vision impairment and to increase rates of recommended eye examinations in the population with diabetes,” says a report in the Nov. 18 issue of the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
“Things are getting better,” says John Buse, MD. He is the chief of the division of endocrinology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. “We are diagnosing diabetes earlier, treating high blood sugar more effectively, addressing other risk factors for eye disease more consistently, and intervening earlier when problems arise,” he says in an email.
Buse says that people can’t afford to become complacent about these risks. “With appropriate prevention and treatment measures, I am convinced that people with diabetes should be able to live out normal life expectancies with little or no increased risk of disabilities,” Buse says. He agrees with Burrows that diabetes patients should “control blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol and get a dilated eye exam every year by an eye care professional.”
Here at ECEW, we’ve been proudly making eye care easy and affordable for Carrollton families for more than 29 years. Our expert Carrollton optometrists are eager to meet with you. Contact us to schedule an appointment or for more information.