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Many Americans With Diabetes Skip Annual Sight-Saving Exams

Many Americans with Diabetes Skip Annual Sight-Saving Exams

People with diabetes are at increased risk of developing serious eye diseases.

Yet most do not have sight-saving, annual eye exams, according to researchers at Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia.

Quigley Eye Specialists joins the American Academy of Ophthalmology in reiterating the importance of eye exams during the month of November, which is observed as Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month.

More than half of patients with the disease skip these exams, researchers said.

They also discovered that patients who smoke – and those with less severe diabetes and no eye problems – were most likely to neglect to have these checks.

The researchers collaborated with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to review the charts of close to 2,000 patients age 40 or older with type 1 and type 2 diabetes to see how many had regular eye exams. Their findings over a four-year period revealed that:

  • Fifty-eight percent of patients did not have regular follow-up eye exams.
  • Smokers were 20 percent less likely to have exams.
  • Those with less-severe disease and no eye problems were least likely to follow recommendations.
  • Those who had diabetic retinopathy were 30 percent more likely to have follow-up exams.

One in 10 Americans has diabetes, putting them at heightened risk for visual impairment due to the eye disease diabetic retinopathy.

This condition often has no early warning signs or symptoms, making it even more important to get regular eye exams. The disease also can lead to other blinding ocular complications if not treated in time.

There are four stages of diabetic retinopathy. No treatment is needed in the first three stages unless you have macular edema (retinal swelling). To prevent the disease from progressing, it’s important to keep your levels of blood sugar, blood pressure and blood cholesterol monitored and under control.

Laser treatment is used to treat proliferative retinopathy.

This type of laser procedure is called scatter laser treatment. Multiple sets of treatments are sometimes needed. Although some peripheral vision may be lost due to this condition, laser treatment can help keep the rest of your sight intact. Night vision and color vision may be reduced slightly.

If blood has accumulated at the center of your eye, you may need what is called a vitrectomy to restore your sight. This is performed under local or general anesthesia. You also will need to wear an eye patch for several days and, in some cases, weeks to protect your eye. If both eyes need a vitrectomy, the procedure is done in one eye at a time, several weeks apart.

Fortunately, having a dilated eye exam yearly or more often can prevent 95 percent of diabetes-related vision loss. Eye exams are critical as they can reveal hidden signs of disease, enabling timely treatment. This is why the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends people with diabetes have them annually or more often as recommended by their ophthalmologist.

Quigley Eye Specialists offer all treatments for diseases of the eye.

Dr. Thomas Aaron Judd is a Florida Board-certified Optometrist with Quigley Eye Specialists. Technology leaders in eye care, Quigley Eye Specialists specializes in cataracts, laser cataract surgery, glaucoma, LASIK, dry eye, cosmetic surgery, retinal issues, corneal conditions and routine eye care. The practice has served the region for more than 30 years with locations throughout Southwest Florida including Bonita Springs, Cape Coral, Fort Myers, Lehigh Acres, Naples, Port Charlotte and Punta Gorda. For more information, call 239-466-2020.

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