Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of vision loss among working age adults worldwide.1 While the U.S. is home to the world’s largest number of children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes, it is estimated to have 30.2 million people between the age of 20-79 with diabetes as well.2
Diabetic retinopathy, the most common diabetic eye disease, occurs when blood vessels in the retina change. Sometimes, the vessels swell and leak fluid or even close off completely. In other cases, abnormal new blood vessels grow on the retina surface. Oftentimes, those with diabetic retinopathy do not notice changes in their vision in the early stages of the disease. Indeed, according to the National Eye Institute, between 40 and 45 percent of Americans diagnosed with diabetes have some stage of diabetic retinopathy, although only about half are aware. The longer someone has had diabetes, the higher the risk of developing the condition. Also, as it progresses, it usually causes vision loss that, in many cases, cannot be reversed.3
The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends close follow-up eye exams for patients with diabetic retinopathy depending on their retinopathy severity.4 "I recommend regular eye exams to diabetic retinopathy patients, depending on their retinopathy severity, and stress the importance of glycemic and systemic medical control to ensure that patients are receiving the highest possibility for successful treatment," said Radwan Ajlan, MBBCh, FRCS(c), KU Eye Faculty.
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- 1The National Eye Institute, Facts About Diabetic Eye Disease
- 2The International Diabetes Federation Diabetes Atlas, eighth edition 2017
- 3The American Academy of Ophthalmology, Annual Eye Exams Can Save Sight for People with Diabetes
- 4The American Academy of Ophthalmology, Diabetic Retinopathy PPP