Diabetic Retinopathy Increasing in Adults Over Age 40
November is Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month
The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) noted a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association offers “reliable evidence that diabetic retinopathy and vision-threatening diabetic retinopathy are increasing in adults over age 40 in the United States and that more Americans, especially non-Hispanic black Americans, will be vulnerable to potentially-blinding diabetic retinopathy in coming years.
The Academy reminds those who have diabetes or are at risk for the disease—especially people with black, Latino, Native American or Pacific Islander heritage — that having an annual dilated eye exam by an ophthalmologist is an important step toward protecting their eyes and vision, along with proper medical care, careful glycemic (blood sugar) control, and other lifestyle choices that reduce the health impacts of diabetes.
According to local ophthalmologist Jonathan M. Frantz, MD, FACS, medical director of Florida Eye Health, “The earlier diabetes is caught and appropriate lifestyle changes and treatment begin, the better the chance of avoiding vision loss and other health consequences.”
Diabetic Retinopathy, a condition occurring in persons with diabetes, causes progressive damage to the retina, the light sensitive lining at the back of your eye. It is a serious sight-threatening complication of diabetes.
Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy include:
• Seeing spots or floaters in your field of vision
• Blurred vision
• Having a dark or empty spot in the center of your vision
• Difficulty seeing well at night
“The eye doctors at Florida Eye Health work with area primary care doctors to provide quality, patient-focused eye care that is so important to patients with diabetes,” said Dr. Frantz. He explained that prolonged periods of high blood sugar may lead to the accumulation of fluid in the lens inside the eye that controls eye focusing. This changes the curvature of the lens and results in the development of symptoms of blurred vision. The blurring of distance vision as a result of lens swelling will subside once the blood sugar levels are brought under control. Better control of blood sugar levels in patients with diabetes also slows the onset and progression of diabetic retinopathy.
An eye doctor is an important member of the diabetes health care team. Often there are no visual symptoms in the early stages of diabetic retinopathy. Part of living with diabetes and successful eye care is having a comprehensive dilated eye examination on at least an annual basis – more often for people with existing eye issues or more serious retinopathy. Early detection and treatment can limit the potential for significant vision loss from diabetic retinopathy.
Dr. Frantz and his medical team offer a broad spectrum of eye care from eye exams and eyewear to cataract removal, glaucoma care, state of the art laser vision correction, and eyelid surgery, at five office locations throughout Southwest Florida including Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Punta Gorda, Lehigh Acres and Naples. For more information, call the main office of Florida Eye Health at (239) 418-0999.