Diabetes & Eyes: What People Don’t Know Could Leave Them Blind from Eye Diseases Associated with Diabetes. 

Recent studies show low awareness of diabetic eye disease among African-Americans and Hispanics, low uptake of sight-saving exams among Medicare beneficiaries

SAN FRANCISCO — While people with diabetes are more likely to develop blinding eye diseases, recent studies have revealed low awareness of the issue among ethnicities at higher risk for diabetes and low uptake of preventive eye exams among affected Medicare beneficiaries. With the findings signaling that many Americans may not be defending themselves against diabetes-related vision loss, the American Academy of Ophthalmology is sharing information about diabetic eye disease and dilated eye exams to encourage those with diabetes to take proactive steps to protect their vision.
Although Hispanics and African-Americans are more likely to have diabetes than most other ethnicities, a recent poll commissioned by the Alliance for Eye and Vision Research has revealed that only 27 and 32 percent (respectively) report to know about diabetic eye disease. In addition, while the Academy recommends that people with diabetes have a dilated eye exam every year, one study recently published in the journal Ophthalmology found that, among Medicare beneficiaries diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma or diabetes – all conditions that require an annual eye exam – three-quarters of those who did not have an exam in five years were those living with diabetes.

“It’s alarming that so many people with diabetes or at risk for diabetes may be unaware of the damage their condition can do to their eyes and may not be getting exams to check for it,” said Raj K. Maturi, M.D., ophthalmologist and clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. “Outside of maintaining good blood glucose levels, having an annual dilated eye exam is the best first line defense against vision loss from diabetic eye disease.”
While “diabetic eye disease” is often used, people may be unaware that this term encompasses a number of diseases and conditions that can cause blindness if left untreated. These include:

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