Raj Patel, MD reiterates the importance of dilated eye exams in preventing vision loss
Hendersonville, NC – November 8, 2017 – People with diabetes are at increased risk of developing serious eye diseases, yet most do not have sight-saving, annual eye exams, according to a large study. This is especially timely as Carolina Ophthalmology joins the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) in reiterating the importance of eye exams during the month of November, which is observed as Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month.
Researchers at Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia have found that more than half of patients with the disease skip these exams. They also discovered that patients who smoke – and those with less severe diabetes and no eye problems – were most likely to neglect having these checks.
The researchers collaborated with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to review the charts of close to 2,000 patients age 40 or older with type 1 and type 2 diabetes to see how many had regular eye exams. Their findings over a four-year period revealed that:
- Fifty-eight percent of patients did not have regular follow-up eye exams
- Smokers were twenty percent less likely to have exams
- Those with less-severe disease and no eye problems were least likely to follow recommendations
- Those who had diabetic retinopathy were thirty percent more likely to have follow-up exams
One in 10 Americans have diabetes, putting them at heightened risk for visual impairment due to the eye disease diabetic retinopathy. The disease also can lead to other blinding ocular complications if not treated in time. Fortunately, having a dilated eye exam yearly or more often can prevent 95 percent of diabetes-related vision loss.
Eye exams are critical as they can reveal hidden signs of disease, enabling timely treatment. This is why the AAO recommends people with diabetes have them annually or more often as recommended by their ophthalmologist, a physician who specializes in medical and surgical eye care.
“Diabetes affects every organ in the body and the eye is no exception,” says Dr. Raj Patel, fellowship trained retina surgeon with Carolina Ophthalmology. “With each passing year, the risk of developing diabetic eye disease increases. The sooner these changes are detected the better the outcome for the patient.” The AAO has released a new animated public service announcement to help educate people about the importance of regular exams and common eye diseases including diabetic retinopathy. It encourages the public to watch and share it with their friends and family. Additional information on diabetic retinopathy can be found at: www.carolinaeyemd.com/retina-center-hendersonville/diabetic-retinopathy/.
According to Dr. Patel, “With the advances made in medical science, there is no reason one should wait for vision loss to occur before seeking treatment. Yearly eye exams can go a long way toward protecting your eyesight for the rest of your life.”