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SOURCE American Academy of Ophthalmology
Regular eye exams are one of the best ways to avoid diabetic eye diseases
SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 29, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- In observance of American Diabetes Month this November, ophthalmologists across the country are reminding the 25.8 million Americans living with diabetes –the leading cause of new cases of blindness among adults age 20 to 74 years[i] - of the key steps they should take to prevent vision loss.
Diabetes is a major risk factor for cataract, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy, which is the most severe of the three eye diseases, which affects approximately 7.7 million Americans. Diabetic retinopathy is more than twice as common in Mexican Americans and nearly three times as common in African Americans as in non-Hispanic whites.[ii],[iii] The American Academy of Ophthalmology advises that diabetic eye diseases can be prevented and their progression can be slowed through early detection and diligent diabetes care. Yet, only 10 percent of people with diabetes in medically underserved communities get screened yearly for diabetic retinopathy.[iv]
In diabetic retinopathy, the small blood vessels inside the retina at the back of the eye are damaged, causing them to leak fluid into the retina, which is the light sensitive tissue in the back of the eye. This is known as macular edema and is the leading cause of moderate vision loss in people with diabetes. As the disease progresses, abnormal blood vessels can grow on the surface of the retina, a process that is called proliferative retinopathy. These vessels can bleed and form scar tissue which can ultimately cause blindness.
To help prevent these complications, the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that people with diabetes take the following steps:
Careful diabetes management is the best way to prevent vision loss. Although treatments are not usually curative, they can reduce the risk for vision loss and include injectable medications, laser surgery and vitrectomy surgery, during which blood and scar tissue from abnormal vessels are removed.
"Much too frequently patients with diabetes come to me when it's too late, and they are already going blind due to their heightened risk for eye disease," said John Kitchens, M.D., a retina specialist and clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. "It is very sad to think that, if only they had acted sooner and had a simple dilated eye exam each year, we could have intervened and saved their vision. Bottom line is: if you have diabetes, don't take this advice lightly, no matter your age."
The Academy offers a free educational DVD – which can be ordered through its public education website www.geteyesmart.org – about preventing and treating diabetic eye diseases featuring Chicago Bears' center, Roberto Garza, whose grandfather lost his sight due to diabetes.
About the American Academy of Ophthalmology
The American Academy of Ophthalmology, headquartered in San Francisco, is the world's largest association of eye physicians and surgeons - Eye M.D.s - with more than 32,000 members worldwide. Eye health care is provided by the three "O's" – ophthalmologists, optometrists, and opticians. It is the ophthalmologist, or Eye M.D., who has the education and training to treat it all: eye diseases, infections and injuries, and perform eye surgery. For more information, visit www.aao.org. The Academy's EyeSmart® program educates the public about the importance of eye health and empowers them to preserve healthy vision. EyeSmart provides the most trusted and medically accurate information about eye diseases, conditions and injuries. OjosSanos™ is the Spanish-language version of the program. Visit www.geteyesmart.org or www.ojossanos.org to learn more.
About EyeCare America
Established in 1985, EyeCare America, a public service program of the Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, is committed to the preservation of sight, accomplishing its mission through public service and education. EyeCare America provides year-round eye care services to medically underserved seniors and those at increased risk for eye disease. More than 90 percent of the care made available is provided at no out-of-pocket cost to the patients. EyeCare America is co-sponsored by the Knights Templar Eye Foundation Inc., with additional support provided by Alcon and Genentech. More information can be found at www.eyecareamerica.org.
Image with caption: "In observance of American Diabetes Month this November, ophthalmologists across the country are reminding the 25.8 million Americans living with diabetes – the leading cause of new cases of blindness among adults age 20 to 74 years – of the key steps they should take to prevent vision loss.". Image available at: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20131029/DC05839
Image with caption: "American Academy of Ophthalmology Logo.". Image available at: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20130405/MM89329LOGO
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