November is Diabetic Awareness Month. Approximately one-third of all diabetics (type 1, type 2, or gestational) in the United States are at risk of developing diabetic retinopathy, a disease progression caused by high blood sugar levels damaging the back of the eye (retina). Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of blindness in working-age adults, and if it goes undiagnosed and untreated, it can result in vision loss or even irreversible blindness.
The Center for Disease Control
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has determined that less than two-thirds of diabetics visit an eye specialist for their recommended annual dilated ophthalmic exams, posing a public health challenge and crisis.Children and adolescents with diabetes have even lower rates of these necessary screening visits. Surprisingly, less than half of adolescents with Type 2 diabetes receive an exam within six years of being diagnosed.
In recognition of Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month in November, Advanced Eyecare Optometry takes a moment to reflect on the global public health implications of diabetes on the eyes. Diabetes is the leading cause of preventable blindness in the United States among adults aged 20 to 74, and the fifth leading cause of preventable blindness worldwide. This month, Advanced Eyecare Optometry focuses on diabetes, both for the seriousness of its global impact and for its links to preventive eye health practices.
We at Advanced Eyecare Optometry take note of what the CDC recommends in eye health practice to diabetics, both for control of vision problems and to slow worsening eyesight::
- Maintain your blood sugar levels as close to your target range as possible. High blood sugar levels not only damage the blood vessels in your eyes over time, but they can also cause large fluctuations in your glasses or contact lens prescriptions.
- Maintain healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels to reduce your risk of eye disease and vision loss. Also beneficial to your overall health!
- Give up smoking. Quitting reduces your risk of diabetes-related eye diseases while also improving your health in a variety of other ways.
- Get moving.Physical activity protects your eyes and aids in the management of diabetes.
- Request a referral to diabetes self-management education and support (DSMES) services from your doctor. People who receive less diabetes education are twice as likely as those who receive more education to develop diabetic retinopathy.
- Inform your family and friends: A major public health challenge is preventing vision loss and blindness. Get yearly dilated eye exams to prevent and slow vision loss!.
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