Proper Eye Care Essential for Diabetics
Sclafani, a retired New York Police Department detective, could not see
the red or green of the traffic lights while driving one day, he
realized he had a serious vision problem. He suspected the Type II
diabetes he had lived with for 20 years was affecting his eyes. With
laser treatment of his diabetic retinopathy and close monitoring of his
blood sugar, Sclafani's vision is now better than it had been for
vision back was like getting my life back, so I do everything my
doctors tell me to keep it that way," Sclafani said.
Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness month, and the American Academy of
Ophthalmology reminds the public that people with diabetes are 25 times
more likely to become blind than those not who do not have the illness.
Loss of vision can often be prevented or reduced if the disease is
detected and treated early.
control of blood sugar may prevent and in some cases even reverse early
damage from diabetic retinopathy," said Dr. K. Bailey Freund, a
clinical correspondent for the Academy and Sclafani's doctor. "With
treatment and follow up, we can minimize vision loss or in some cases
restore vision to better than it was before treatment. A key factor for
success is the patient's commitment to keeping his blood sugar tightly
controlled through diet."
retinopathy, a complication of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, is a
degenerative disease of the retina (the area at the back of the eye
that makes clear, central vision possible.) This eye disease affects
5.3 million Americans age 18 and up. Diabetes is on the rise in the
young people, and one-third of the estimated 16 million people with
diabetes are unaware that they have the illness. Sometimes people learn
they are diabetic when an ophthalmologist's exam finds diabetic
sugar levels have been linked to eye blood vessel abnormalities that
result in a range of diabetic retinopathy symptoms. In the early phase,
some patients may notice only mild or no changes in their vision. Since
damage from the disease often develops slowly, early detection and
treatment can make a crucial difference in preserving vision.
provide effective treatments for retinopathy, including laser
photocoagulation for early to moderate stages, and a microsurgery
called vitrectomy when the disease has caused extensive damage to the
eye. Injectable and oral medications that act on abnormal blood vessels
and could control diabetic retinopathy before vision loss occurs are
now in development. Early detection would be key to the optimal
effectiveness of these approaches.
individuals at any age with symptoms of or at risk for eye disease
– such as those with diabetes, high blood pressure or a family
history of eye disease – the Academy recommends seeing an
ophthalmologist to determine how frequently they should receive eye
examinations. Pregnant women who have diabetes should see an
ophthalmologist as early in the first trimester as possible, since
retinopathy can worsen quickly during pregnancy. The Academy recommends
a baseline eye exam at age 40 for everyone not at risk for eye disease.
Additional information on diabetic retinopathy can be found on www.GetEyeSmart.org.