Vision Matters: National Diabetic Month and the Fight Against Diabetic Retinopathy
November is National Diabetic Month, a time dedicated to raising awareness about diabetes, its complications, and the importance of managing this chronic condition. One aspect of diabetes management is the potential impact it can have on our eyes, particularly diabetic retinopathy. In this blog, we will explore the significance of regular eye exams, the connection between diabetes and eye health, and why diabetic eye disease is the leading cause of vision loss among working adults.
Understanding Diabetic Retinopathy
Diabetic retinopathy is a diabetes-related complication that affects the eyes. It occurs when high levels of blood sugar damage the delicate blood vessels in the retina, the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. As these blood vessels weaken and leak, they can lead to vision problems or even complete blindness if left untreated. The risk of developing diabetic retinopathy is directly related to how well an individual manages their diabetes, primarily their blood sugar levels.
According to Prevent Blindness, “A new study published today in JAMA Ophthalmology, “Prevalence of Diabetic Retinopathy in the US in 2021,” found that in 2021, an estimated 9.6 million people in the United States (26.4 percent of those with diabetes) had diabetic retinopathy (DR), and 1.84 million people (5.1 percent of those with diabetes) had vision-threatening diabetic retinopathy (VTDR). The number of people aged 40 years and older living with diabetes-related eye disease more than doubled since prevalence was last estimated in 2004. VTDR has also almost doubled since last estimated in 2004.”
The Importance of Regular Eye Exams
One of the most critical steps in managing diabetic retinopathy is early detection. This is where regular eye exams come into play. For individuals living with diabetes, routine eye exams are not merely a formality; they are a lifeline for preserving vision. Here’s why:
- Early Detection: Regular eye exams can detect diabetic retinopathy in its early stages, often before any noticeable symptoms occur. This is crucial because the earlier it is detected, the more effective treatment can be.
- Prevent Progression: If diabetic retinopathy is detected early, interventions such as laser therapy or medication can be administered to prevent its progression. These treatments can help stop the damage to the retina and preserve vision.
- Monitor Progress: Regular eye exams also help your eye care specialist track the progression of the condition. Adjustments to your diabetes management plan can be made to keep your blood sugar levels in check, further reducing the risk of worsening retinopathy.
- Maintain Quality of Life: Vision is a vital sense, and its preservation is essential for maintaining a good quality of life. Regular eye exams can ensure that any vision problems associated with diabetes are addressed promptly.
As we observe National Diabetic Month, it’s a great time to take action and prioritize your eye health, especially if you’re living with diabetes or know someone who is. Here are some key steps you can take:
- Schedule an Eye Exam: If you have diabetes, schedule a comprehensive eye exam with the doctors at Bissell Eye Care. Make sure to discuss your diabetes diagnosis and the need for regular eye screenings.
- Manage Your Diabetes: Keeping your blood sugar levels in check is the best way to prevent diabetic retinopathy and other diabetes-related complications. Follow your healthcare provider’s recommendations for managing your diabetes effectively.
- Spread Awareness: Use this month to educate your friends and family about the importance of regular eye exams for those with diabetes. Encourage loved ones with diabetes to prioritize their eye health.
- Advocate for Eye Health: Support initiatives that promote eye health and raise awareness about the connection between diabetes and vision loss. Participate in events, share information on social media, or contribute to diabetes-related organizations.
Let’s make a collective effort to prioritize our eye health, especially for those living with diabetes. By understanding the significance of regular eye exams and the risk of diabetic retinopathy, we can take proactive steps to preserve our vision and continue to lead fulfilling lives. Regular eye exams are not just an option; they are a necessity in the battle against diabetic eye disease and vision loss.
About Bissell Eye Care: John D. Bissell, OD owns and operates Bissell Eye Care servicing Northern Pittsburgh and Alle-Kiski Valley regions. With two locations to treat patients, we offer evening and Saturday appointments. Bissell Eye Care provides comprehensive eye examinations for the entire family beginning as early as 6 months, ocular disease detection and treatment, eyeglasses, sunglasses, activewear, contact lenses, and low vision examinations for those with significant vision loss. We accept most types of vision and health insurance plans. For more Information, visit bisselleyecare.com or call our Bakerstown Office at 724-443-6767 or Natrona Heights office at 724-226-0444.