As you probably know, diabetics are at a higher risk for glaucoma, optic neuropathy, and cataracts and are more likely to suffer visual loss from the effects of diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of new-onset blindness among working-age people in the United States.
The National Eye Institute (NEI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) urges everyone with diabetes to have a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once a year. With diabetic retinopathy, eye exams more often may be indicated. People with proliferative retinopathy can reduce their risk of blindness by 95 percent with timely treatment and appropriate follow-up care.
You can help your patients by explaining that a major study cited by NIH has shown that better control of blood sugar levels slows the onset and progression of retinopathy. Encourage patients with diabetes to keep their blood sugar levels as close to normal as possible – the study also shows that there is much less kidney and nerve disease with better blood sugar level control and that better control might also reduce the need for sight-saving laser surgery.
- Proliferative retinopathy can develop without symptoms; at an advanced stage, patients are at high risk for vision loss.
- Macular edema can develop without symptoms at any of the four stages of diabetic retinopathy.
- Diabetic patients can develop both proliferative retinopathy and macular edema and still seem to “see fine” at the time, however they are at high risk for vision loss.
- UV and glare protection is especially important for diabetics because the disease may make them more prone to damage from the sun, and also more sensitive to everyday and bright light. Only 17 percent of diabetics know that the disease can make them sensitive to light, so many patients are not wearing the vision protection they need on a regular basis.
As a professional, you can monitor for signs of undiagnosed diabetes and signs of subadequate control. You can do more than just tell your patients about the effects of diabetes, you can show them. We know that eye models help you educate and inform patients. Our newest Diabetes Eye-Plus™ Model not only shows patients the effects of un-monitored diabetes on their eyes, but on other vital body parts. And that might just be the tipping point that makes them more diabetes compliant.
What’s it worth to inform and protect just one patient from the ravages of diabetes? We think the Diabetes Eye-Plus Model can help.
Tell me what you think.
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Click here to learn more about our new Diabetes Eye-Plus Model or search 15252 on our website.
Tom Cockley is president of Gulden Ophthalmics and the third generation of the over 70 year old visionary company that brings innovative, time-saving, utilitarian products to vision and health care professionals.
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