(Press Release) CHICAGO – Prevent Blindness has declared November as Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month to help educate the public on the effects of diabetes on vision, types of diabetic eye disease, risk factors and treatment options.
Today, more than 8 million Americans have diabetic retinopathy, with that number expected to jump in the coming years, according to a study by Prevent Blindness, the nation’s oldest volunteer eye health and safety non-profit organization.
The study, The Future of Vision: Forecasting the Prevalence and Costs of Vision Problems, also projected extremely high growth in diabetic retinopathy cases for Hispanic populations.
Currently, 67 percent of cases are among whites and 17 percent among Hispanics. By 2050, projections suggest that 45 percent of diabetic retinopathy patients will be white and 35 percent will be Hispanic. And, diabetic retinopathy affects more men than women.
Prevent Blindness offers a variety of free resources dedicated to the education of diabetic eye disease including its dedicated website, preventblindness.org/diabetes, and its free “Healthy Eyes Educational Series, Adult Vision Problems Module,” at preventblindness.org/healthy-eyes-educational-series.
Among the conditions that make up diabetic eye disease are diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular edema, along with cataract and glaucoma.
To help prevent diabetic eye disease, Prevent Blindness suggests:
Maintaining good blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol control.
Getting a comprehensive dilated eye exam and/or obtaining retinal photographs that are examined by an eye doctor, at least once a year, or more often as recommended by the eye doctor.
Pregnant women with diabetes prior to pregnancy should have a comprehensive dilated eye exam early in their pregnancy. The eye doctor may recommend additional exams during pregnancy.
Keeping a healthy lifestyle that includes exercising regularly, not smoking and following a healthy diet. Talk to a dietician about eating habits and a doctor before starting an exercise program.
“It is imperative for anyone with diabetes to get an annual eye exam,” said Hugh R. Parry, president and CEO of Prevent Blindness. “Although there is no cure for diabetic eye disease today, vision loss can be lessened with early diagnosis and proper treatment from an eye care professional.”
Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) covers a yearly eye exam for diabetic retinopathy by an eye doctor who is legally allowed to do the test in the state. All people with Part B who have diabetes are covered.