Eye Exams Emphasized for Seniors
with Diabetes to Avoid Common Vision Loss
National Diabetes Month emphasized by
National Eye Institute to highlight a leading cause of vision loss in
1, 2013 - If you are one of more than 11 million seniors with diabetes,
you probably already know the importance of watching your diet and
keeping track of your blood sugar. But did you know its also important
to have regular eye exams? In the United States, diabetic eye disease is
the leading cause of vision loss among working-age adults.
Diabetic retinopathy is the most
common form of this disease, and affects about 28.5 percent of Americans
with diabetes age 40 and older. Thats more than 7 million people, and
the number is expected to reach more than 11 million by the year 2030.
The condition can creep up quietly.
It gradually weakens small blood vessels in and around the retina, the
light-sensing layer of tissue at the back of the eye. If the disease
progresses, these vessels may rupture and leak blood into the eye; they
can also spread and grow on the surface of the retina and cause
Typically, diabetic retinopathy has
no symptoms until it reaches an advanced stage. But the disease can be
detected early through a comprehensive dilated eye exam. In this
procedure, an eye professional will put drops in your eye to dilate
(widen) the pupil, which allows a closer look at the retina.
Trouble seeing things out
of the corners of your eyes
Treatment often includes laser
treatment or surgery, with follow-up care.
Two other eye problems can happen
to people with diabetes. A
cataract is a cloud over the lens of your eye. Surgery helps you see
Glaucoma happens when pressure builds up in the eye, damaging the
main nerve. Eye drops or surgery can help.
If you have diabetes, you should
have a complete eye exam every year. Finding and treating problems early
may save your vision.
The good news is that with early
detection, timely treatment, and appropriate follow-up, the risk of
severe vision loss from diabetic retinopathy can be reduced by 95
percent. There are several effective treatment options including laser
surgery and injections of anti-VEGF drugs. These drugs block the actions
of a protein that can cause abnormal blood vessels to grow and leak
November is National Diabetes
Month. If you have diabetes, its a good time to remember these health
Get a comprehensive dilated
eye exam at least once a year.
Control your blood sugar,
blood pressure and cholesterol levels. By controlling your diabetes,
youll reduce your risk of diabetic eye disease.
Talk to your eye care
professional about diabetic retinopathy.
Learn more about
diabetic eye disease from the National Eye
Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health.
NEIs Diabetic Retinopathy Clinical
Research Network (DRCR.net) conducts large multi-center trials of new
therapies for diabetic eye disease; it comprises nearly 1000
investigators at sites in 48 states. Many of the sites are private
practice eye clinics, enabling the network to quickly bring innovative
treatments from research into community practice. An ongoing trial is
comparing three anti-VEGF drugs for macular edema, a complication of
diabetic retinopathy that causes central vision loss. For more
information, please see trial
The National Eye Institute, part of
the National Institutes of Health, leads the federal government's
research on the visual system and eye diseases. NEI supports basic and
clinical science programs that result in the development of sight-saving
treatments. For more information, visit
About the National Institutes of
Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27
Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of
Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting
and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and
is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and
rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit
About Diabetes at MedlinePlus
Diabetes is a disease in which your
blood glucose, or
blood sugar, levels are too high. Glucose comes from the foods you
eat. Insulin is a hormone that helps the glucose get into your cells to
give them energy. With
type 1 diabetes, your body does not make insulin. With
type 2 diabetes, the more common type, your body does not make or
use insulin well. Without enough insulin, the glucose stays in your
A blood test can show if you have
diabetes. Exercise, weight control and sticking to your meal plan can
help control your diabetes. You should also monitor your glucose level
and take medicine if prescribed.