Thursday, November 29, 2012

November is Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month

An Article from the Lebanon Journal, Lebanon PA   Nov 2012

An estimated 25 million Americans currently have diabetes, according to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Unfortunately, rising rates of diabetes have contributed to a sharp increase in diabetic eye diseases and blindness. To raise awareness about this serious threat to healthy vision, the Pennsylvania Academy of Ophthalmology is urging all diabetic patients in Pennsylvania to obtain regular eye exams during November, Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month.

The most common diabetic eye disease is diabetic retinopathy, which affects 40 to 45 percent of Americans with diabetes according to the National Eye Institute. Diabetic retinopathy damages the delicate blood vessels inside the retina at the back of the eye. Damaged blood vessels in the retina may leak extra fluid and small amounts of blood or fat deposits into the eye. As the disease progresses, abnormal blood vessels can grow on the surface of the retina or optic nerve, which can lead to blindness. Diabetic patients are also at an increased risk for cataracts and glaucoma.

Diabetic eye diseases typically have no early symptoms, so regular eye exams with an ophthalmologist - an eye medical doctor - are paramount to help monitor eye health and preserve diabetic patients' vision. Once diagnosed, an ophthalmologist can help slow the progression of the disease.

Too often, diabetic eye disease progresses into blindness because patients don't get their annual eye health screenings. Early detection and treatment is critical to reduce and delay severe vision loss in diabetics.

To maintain healthy vision with diabetes, ophthalmic professionals recommend the following EyeSmart tips:

Get a comprehensive dilated eye examination at least once a year.

Control your blood sugar.

Maintain healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Exercise regularly.

Quit smoking, or never start.

As diabetic retinopathy progresses, symptoms may include specks or spots floating in the visual field, blurred central vision, vision that changes from blurry to clear, poor night vision, and vision loss. Treatments to slow the progression of diabetic retinopathy include injectable and oral medications, laser surgery and vitrectomy surgery.

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