November is Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month

A recent survey from the American Optometric Association (AOA) found that 55 percent of people are unaware that diabetic eye disease often has no visual signs or symptoms.

Additionally, 44 percent of Americans don’t know that a person with diabetes should have a comprehensive eye exam once a year. That’s why this year, professionals throughout the optical industry are placing added focus on November as Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month.

The National Eye Institute (NEI), a part of the National Institutes of Health, is encouraging consumers with diabetes to get annual dilated eye exams and take steps to avoid vision loss and will be providing resources to health professionals and the public to educate and increase awareness of diabetic eye disease through its National Eye Health Education Program (NEHEP).

In addition, Prevent Blindness America (PBA) reported that more than 25 million Americans have diabetes, a disease that is the leading cause of new cases of blindness in those ages 20 and over. “People with diabetes are also twice as likely to develop other eye diseases such as cataract and glaucoma. Fortunately, recent studies have shown that the onset of Type 2 diabetes can be delayed or prevented and the risk of vision loss reduced through a healthy diet and exercise,” PBA said.

The AOA is urging those living with diabetes to schedule yearly comprehensive eye exams to help detect diabetic eye disease, especially since, according to the organization, the number of people suffering from diabetic eye disease is expected to nearly double by the year 2020.

“When optometrists dilate a patient’s eyes during an eye exam, they have a clear view of the retina and can look for indications of diabetic eye disease, such as leaking blood vessels, swelling and deposits within the retina,” said Dr. Linda Chous, chief health officer at United Healthcare and past president of MOA. “Optometrists often serve as the first line of detection for diabetes, since the eye is the only place in the body that blood vessels can be seen in their natural condition,” she added.

For further questions please contact Heitmeier, Armani, Langhetee and Cangelosi Medical and Surgical Eyecare at (504) 368-7081.

About the author

Dr. David Heitmeier

Dr. David Heitmeier

A lifelong resident of the West Bank, David Heitmeier is a Doctor of Optometry and owns and manages one of the region's most successful clinical practices. A 1979 graduate of Holy Cross High School, Doctor Heitmeier went on to earn a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Southwestern Louisiana in Biological, Mathematical and Physical Sciences. Completing his education with a doctorate in Optometry in 1987 from the University of Houston, he chose to work in the community he loves and founded Heitmeier & Armani - Medical and Surgical Eyecare. Doctor Heitmeier's commitment to hard work and innovation has earned him the admiration of his colleagues in the field of healthcare. He has lectured on business organization and efficiency and has taught the principles of patient service and ethics around the country.

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