Diabetic retinopathy on the rise; dilated eye exam can help prevent vision loss

The incidence of diabetes continues to increase, particularly among adolescents and young adults. The CDC projects the number of diabetic retinopathy cases will double by 2050. On World Diabetes Day, November 14, the American Academy of Ophthalmology (Academy), through its EyeSmart™ campaign, is reminding the public that an annual dilated eye exam can help prevent vision loss in people with diabetes.

To promote awareness of the need for an annual eye exam, the Academy, along with its partners the American Society of Retina Specialists, the Macula Society and the Retina Society, has launched EyeSmart EyeCommitted, a social media campaign to encourage people with diabetes to pledge to get an annual eye exam.

"As ophthalmologists, we are concerned that the increase in Type 2 diabetes cases at younger ages could mean people may be facing vision-threatening eye disease in the prime of their lives," said David W. Parke II, MD, executive vice president and CEO of the Academy. "That is why we're urging people with diabetes to get EyeCommitted. By taking charge of their eye health, Americans can greatly reduce their risk of losing their sight from diabetes."

The EyeCommitted campaign, which is promoted through social media channels, includes an interactive pledge application that:

-- Encourages visitors to take the EyeCommitted pledge to have an annual diabetic eye exam; -- Allows users to share the pledge and campaign information with friends and family; -- Features important diabetic eye disease information and a new video that tells the compelling stories of two patients with diabetic retinopathy; and, -- Allows users to post the application onto their preferred social media sites.

For each pledge, the Academy will commit another $1 to its diabetic eye health education efforts.

Detailed information about diabetic eye disease is also available on the EyeSmart Web site.

The EyeCommitted campaign comes at a time when there is a documented rise in Type 2 diabetes rates among Americans, particularly among the young. An estimated 23.6 million Americans have Type 2 diabetes, but nearly one quarter are unaware of it. African-Americans and people of Hispanic heritage are more likely to have diabetes.

"Once they are diagnosed, people with diabetes will have to manage their eye health closely for decades, including through their peak work years," said Abdhish R. Bhavsar, MD, Director of Clinical Research at the Retina Center of Minnesota and an attending surgeon at the Phillips Eye Institute in Minneapolis. "That's why it is critical for people with Type 2 diabetes to get an eye exam as soon after their diagnosis as possible and then annually thereafter." For people with Type 1 diabetes, also known as juvenile diabetes, the Academy recommends that the first dilated eye exam should take place within three to five years of initial diagnosis and then annually thereafter.


American Academy of Ophthalmology


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