Optometrists deal with the structure and function of visual and systemic systems, as well as eye health and eye disease. One such disease that affects the eye is diabetes. According to the American Optometric Association, it is the “leading cause of vision loss for Americans under the age of 74.” Optometrists at New England Eye are working to help increase awareness about the complications of the disease such as diabetes related blindness on World Diabetes Day, November 14, 2016. Early detection and timely treatment by optometrists can help prevent and minimize potential eye complications from diabetes.
This year, the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) has chosen the theme Eyes on Diabetes. As part of the World Diabetes Day campaign, IDF has set a target of 1 million people worldwide being screened either for diabetes or for diabetic retinopathy.
The prevalence of diabetes globally is increasing exponentially. According to IDF estimates globally there are approximately 424 million adults living with diabetes. One of the complications of Diabetes Mellitus is Diabetic Retinopathy. According to World Health Organization (WHO) – Diabetic Retinopathy is the main cause of visual impairment in working age group.
What can optometrists do to help with diabetes and eye health?
- Increase patient awareness and understanding of the disease through education.
- Increase screenings to identify patients at risk.
- Increase inter-professional communication and diabetes management as success is based on a multi-disciplinary approach.
- Stress the importance of annual comprehensive eye examinations with timely follow-up to help with preservation of vision and timely intervention and referral for treatment to prevent vision loss.
Learn more about World Diabetes Day from the International Diabetes Federation.