November is Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month

November 6, 2018
Michelle Dalton, ELS
Michelle Dalton, ELS

November has been declared by Prevent Blindness as Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month to educate the public on the effects of diabetes on vision, risk factors and treatment options. Prevent Blindness offers a variety of free resources dedicated to the education of diabetic eye disease at preventblindness.org/diabetes.

“The number of diabetes cases continues to increase, and the condition is hitting people at a much younger age than ever before, which means more cases of permanent vision loss to millions across the country,” said Jeff Todd, president and CEO of Prevent Blindness. “We encourage everyone to get routine dilated eye exam, and those with diabetes to do so annually, so that eye doctors are given a chance to detect, treat and limit the damaging effects to vision.” During the Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month in November, Oxurion (formerly ThromboGenics) will help Prevent Blindness promote awareness and education of the damaging effects that diabetes may have on vision and eye health.

Prevent Blindness is not alone in promoting awareness:

The National Eye Institute’s National Eye Health Education Program promotes several downloadable materials for practices, including a Diabetes and Healthy Eyes Toolkit, National Diabetes Month materials, articles, fact sheets, and flipcharts.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology (and the American Diabetes Association) recommend patients with type 1 diabetes receive an eye exam within the first 5 years after a diagnosis, then one exam per year. The groups recommend those with type 2 diabetes receive an eye exam as soon as diabetes is diagnosed, and then once yearly.

The American Optometric Association also promotes patient education by providing simplified explanations about causes, diagnoses, and treatment.

The American Society of Retina Specialists has fact sheets available for download for patients, including ones specific for diabetic retinopathy. ASRS also notes the Food and Drug Administration has warned that some medications can cause macular edema, including pioglitazone and rosiglitazone, each of which increases the risk of developing macular edema by 3 to 6 times.

Among pharmaceutical companies, Genentech has created the “OpenYourEyes2DB.org,” a multichannel initiative designed to raise awareness about the risk of diabetic blindness and to educate on the importance of early screening. Resources are available in English and Spanish for both healthcare providers and patients.