Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in the United States in adults ages 20-74. During November, National Diabetes Month, members of various health care organizations nationwide are joining together in an effort to prevent blindness in Americans with diabetes.
Diabetes is a disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin, a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches, and other food into energy needed for daily life. The cause of diabetes continues to be a mystery, although both genetics and environmental factors such as obesity and lack of exercise appear to play roles. There are two types of diabetes: type 1, which results from the body’s failure to produce insulin; and type 2, which results from insulin resistance or the body’s inability to produce enough insulin.
All people with diabetes–both type 1 and type 2–are at risk. That’s why everyone with diabetes should get a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once a year. The longer someone has diabetes, the more likely he or she will get diabetic retinopathy. Between 40 to 45 percent of Americans diagnosed with diabetes have some stage of diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy is the most common diabetic eye disease and a leading cause of blindness in American adults. It is caused by changes in the blood vessels of the retina. If you have diabetic retinopathy, we can recommend treatment to help prevent its progression.
During pregnancy, diabetic retinopathy may be a problem for women with diabetes. To protect vision, every pregnant woman with diabetes should have a comprehensive dilated eye exam as soon as possible. We may recommend additional exams during your pregnancy.
We offer Optos™ retinal imaging to view 200 degrees of your retina in the dilated or undilated state to help follow and document progression of diabetes. The Optomap® Retinal Exam is an integral first step in the clinical evaluation of every patient annually. It non-invasively generates an instantaneous, ultra-widefield digital scan of the retina, revealing important information for the comprehensive evaluation of ocular health.
In addition to technology at Beach Eye Care and utmost patient care, we are committed for fundraising to benefit the American Diabetes Association. This year, the Beach Eye Care team participated in Tour De Cure. Tour de Cure is a series of fundraising cycling events held in 43 states nationwide to benefit the American Diabetes Association. Tour de Cure is a ride, not a race, with routes designed for everyone from the occasional rider to the experienced cyclist. This year, we raised over $2,000 and are committed again next year to help in the cause.
There are 23.6 million children and adults in the United States, or 7.8% of the population, who have diabetes. While an estimated 17.9 million have been diagnosed with diabetes, unfortunately, 5.7 million people (or nearly one quarter) are unaware that they have the disease (diabetes statistics-February 2009).
Pre-diabetes is a condition that occurs when a person’s blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not high enough for a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. There are 57 million Americans who have pre-diabetes, in addition to the 23.6 million with diabetes.
If you have diabetes, have pre-diabetes, or need an eye exam, come visit us at one of our four locations and schedule your eye exam with Optos™ retinal imaging. This digital technology is recommended annually – and as an important first step – in every patient’s eye exam. With baseline documentation, we can follow the progression of disease by comparing the digital images of the retina and plan our treatment accordingly.
– Vivek Jain, MD