NIH encourages annual dilated eye exams
About 40 percent of U.S. adults with diabetes have diabetic retinopathy, a very common and debilitating complications of diabetes. During November, which is National Diabetes Month, health experts emphasize the importance of eye exams.
Balintfy: In the United States, diabetes is the leading cause of blindness among working-age adults. But people with diabetes can take steps to prevent the complication of diabetic eye disease.
Huang: Diabetic eye disease refers to a group of diseases.
Balintfy: Dr. Suber Huang is the chair of the National Eye Health Education Program’s Diabetic Eye Disease Subcommittee. He explains that diabetic retinopathy is one example of diabetic eye disease.
Huang: Diabetic retinopathy is a kind of change that occurs to the light sensing tissue inside the eye.
Balintfy: That light sensing tissue in the back of the eye is the retina.
Huang: Often diabetes can begin to cause damage to the retina without causing visual loss.
Balintfy: Dr. Huang emphasizes the importance of getting an annual dilated eye exam.
Huang: It's important to notice these problems before vision is lost, and to do that you need to see your eye care professional.
Balintfy: Diabetic retinopathy is a condition that causes blood vessels of the retina to swell and leak fluid. As the disease progresses, blood vessels become blocked and rupture or new vessels grow on the retina, leading to permanent and sometimes profound vision loss. But Dr. Huang reminds, early detection is important for early treatment.
Huang: Treatment options are available and often most beneficial when the disease is detected early. It's good to catch things early. Vision often lost can't be restored. So when detecting disease before vision lost is key in preserving sight.
Balintfy: People with diabetes are also at greater risk for cataracts, which cause clouding of the eye lens, and glaucoma, which damages the optic nerve. Dr. Huang adds that those with disease may need more frequent examinations.
Huang: In addition to having dilated eye exams every year, people should take their medicines, reach and maintain a healthy weight, add physical activity to their daily routine, control their blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol, and they need to quit the smoking habit.
Balintfy: For more information about diabetic eye disease, including how to get financial assistance for eye care and finding eye care professionals, visit www.nei.nih.gov/diabetes. For NIH Radio, this is Joe Balintfy – NIH... Turning Discovery Into Health®.
About This Audio Report
Reporter: Joe Balintfy
Sound Bite: Dr. Suber Huang
Topic: diabetic eye disease, diabetic retinopathy, eye problem, vision, vision loss, blindness, diabetes