"Never put off to tomorrow what you can do today." While commonly used as a motivational technique, the sentiment also applies to physician-patient conversations about chronic conditions, such as diabetes. Often overwhelmed with multiple challenges, people with diabetes may prioritize the health issues they can see and feel right now - leaving unseen health issues for the future
Diabetic macular edema, a result of damage to blood vessels in the back of the eye, is a serious eye condition that, when left untreated, can result in permanent blindness.1 Though anyone with diabetes is at risk for developing DME, you may be at an even higher risk if you have had diabetes for more than 10 years, or if you frequently experience high blood sugar or fasting blood glucose levels.
Hindsight is 20/20 for many with diabetes. For those with DME, the consequences of vision loss have helped them see the importance of prioritizing their vision.
Because DME is often asymptomatic, the only way to detect the condition is through an annual retina (dilated) eye exam.2,3 Although this routine exam can help you take care of your eyes and may prevent devastating vision loss, one out of four people skip their annual retina eye exam, putting themselves at risk for vision loss.4
Eye health should be a priority
To better understand why people aren't always getting the critical care they need, Diabetic Connect, the world's largest online social network for people and families living with diabetes, surveyed 1,674 Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes patients. The survey identified a significant gap in the understanding of diabetes and vision loss and, with one out of four people with diabetes surveyed not getting an annual retina eye exam, shed light on the importance of educating people with diabetes about an annual retina eye exam.4 You can view an infographic here for more information about the survey itself and about DME.4
It's time to take action - NOW
The message is simple. Don't wait- taking action early can help prevent vision loss. People with diabetes can prioritize their eyes and protect their sight by visiting a retina specialist every year to get a retina eye exam. For more information about diabetic eye conditions and the importance of an annual retina eye exam, or to find a retina specialist in your area, visit DiabetesEyeCheck.org.
1 American Academy of Ophthalmology. What is Diabetic Retinopathy? Available at: http://www.geteyesmart.org/eyesmart/diseases/diabetic-retinopathy.cfm. Accessed August 27, 2013.
2 WebMD. The Risks and Complications of Uncontrolled Diabetes. Available at: http://diabetes.webmd.com/risks-complications-uncontrolled-diabetes. Accessed July 26, 2013.
3 Centers for Disease Control. Can't See Clearly? Get Your Eyes Checked. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/Features/HealthyVision/. Accessed July 26, 2013.
4 Data on file. Alliance Health Eye Dilation Survey, May 14, 2013. Genentech partnered with the Alliance Health Network (AHN) to conduct a survey of 1,674 Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes patients via Diabetic Connect, the #1 diabetes social network in the U.S., to better understand why people aren't always getting the care they need and the impact of vision loss due to diabetes. *Based on survey participant rankings