Dr. Pam Brown from the Chili Vision Group joined Katrina Irwin on News 8 at Sunrise Thursday.
She talked about the importance of eye exams in detecting diabetes.
November is National Diabetes Awareness Month
The New York State Optometric Association (NYSOA) is using National Diabetes Awareness Month to urge Americans living with diabetes to schedule yearly comprehensive eye exams to help detect diabetic eye disease. Optometrists often serve as the first line of detection for diabetes, since the eye is the only place in the body that blood vessels can be seen in their natural condition without having to surgically cut through skin.
Early Detection is Critical:
Diabetic eye disease rarely has early warning signs
Diabetes is the leading cause of new cases of blindness in adults 20-74 years of age
Each year, 12,000 - 24,000 people lose their sight
Detection begins with having a dilated eye examination every year to check for signs of diabetic eye disease and following a course of action recommended by an optometrist
What's involved in a dilated eye examination?:
When optometrists dilate a patient's eyes during an eye exam, they have a clear view of the retina and can look for indications of diabetic eye disease, such as leaking blood vessels, swelling and deposits within the retina.
What are the most common eye conditions caused by diabetes?:
Causes progressive damage to the retina, the light sensitive lining at the back of the eye.
Serious, sight-threatening complication of diabetes that results from damage to tiny blood vessels that nourish the retina. These small blood vessels leak blood and other fluids that cause swelling of retinal tissue that may lead to permanent visual impairment or blindness without prompt treatment.
Diabetic retinopathy is also linked to increased risk of kidney, heart and nerve disease.
Several factors influence whether someone with diabetes develops diabetic retinopathy
Poor blood sugar, blood pressure and blood lipid control
Length of time with diabetes
Race- Both African Americans and Hispanics are nearly twice as likely to have diabetes as Caucasians. According to the American Diabetes Association, on average, about 11.8% of Hispanics and 12.6% of African Americans aged 20 years or older have been diagnosed with diabetes
A patient with diabetes can help prevent or slow the development of diabetic retinopathy by taking prescribed medication as directed, sticking to a healthy diet, exercising regularly, controlling high blood pressure and abnormal blood cholesterol levels, and avoiding alcohol and smoking.
Once the disease develops, the potential for significant vision loss can be dramatically reduced by more aggressive blood sugar, pressure and cholesterol control and timely referral for laser treatment, when appropriate.
Newer medications for retinopathy have recently been shown to be very effective for preserving, and sometimes improving vision.
The majority of people diagnosed with diabetes will have some degree of retinopathy within twenty years of diagnosis.
By the year 2020, the number of people suffering from diabetic eye disease is expected to nearly double.