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American Academy of Ophthalmology Urges Yearly Eye Exam for Diabetics
Research by Dr. Arshad M. Kaisrani

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The American Academy of Ophthalmology has joined the American Diabetes Association, the National Eye Institute, Prevent Blindness America, and 10 other groups in a collaboration aimed to educate the public about diabetic eye disease during November, National Diabetes Month. The goal is to reach the 16 million Americans who have diabetes with a vital message: A yearly dilated eye examination can save your vision.
"Diabetic Retinopathy can lead to blindness if left untreated. The single most important thing that a person with diabetes can do to prevent blindness is to have a dilated eye examination at least once a year," said George Blankenship, MD, Diabetes 2000 National Project Director for the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
Each year, 25,000 Americans lose their sight to diabetic retinopathy, which is the most common form of diabetic eye disease and has no warning signs. In 90 percent of cases, early detection through a dilated eye exam, followed by timely laser surgery (when needed), can prevent blindness from the condition.
In diabetic retinopathy, abnormal blood vessels grow in the retina, the light-sensing tissue that lines the back of the eye. These vessels can bleed into the tissue, and in advanced stages, cause the retina to detach from the rest of the eye. In addition, the central part of the retina, which is crucial to vision, may swell. The result of these changes may be vision loss or blindness.
By dilating the pupil, an eye doctor can examine the retina and can detect any changes that suggest diabetic retinopathy. Early detection, routine monitoring, and appropriate timing of laser surgery (when needed) are essential to effective treatment of the disease.
"Taking just an hour or so to have a dilated eye examination at least once a year can save people with diabetes from a lifetime of blindness," said Carl Kupfer, MD, director of the National Eye Institute (NEI) of the National Institutes of Health.
This is the third year the American Diabetes Association, the NEI and the American Academy of Ophthalmology have joined forces to make diabetic eye disease the focus of National Diabetes Month.
For more information about diabetic retinopathy, and other eye disorders, visit the American Academy of Ophthalmology's World Wide Web Site at www.eyenet.org