Diabetes affects 18 million people in America and 2 million people in the UK.
Diabetics can develop diabetic retinopathy, with 40% plus of all diabetics have some degree of the disease. Diabetic retinopathy weakens the small blood vessels in the retina. Retinal blood vessels can break down, leak, or become blocked, impairing vision over time.
Diabetic retinopathy is the leading cause of new cases of blindness among adults 20-74 years old. And, diabetic patients are 40% more likely to develop glaucoma and 60% more likely to develop cataracts than those without diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association.
www.diabetes-sight.org offers free information about the disease, including symptoms, risk factors and treatment options. In addition, it provides an easy-to-use quiz to determine the likelihood that one will lose his or her sight from diabetic retinopathy, and a virtual simulation of the affects of the disease on the visual field. It also has information on financial assistance and Medicare benefits as they relate to diabetes and vision. The site was made possible by a grant from Eli Lilly and Company.
“The number of people being diagnosed with diabetes is increasing year after year,” said Daniel D. Garrett, senior vice president of PBA. “We want to get the message out to all diabetic patients that there are steps they can take to help protect their vision.”
PBA recommends that everyone take the following steps to protect their eyesight:
See an optician at least once a year if you have diabetes or if you are at high risk.
Maintain a healthy weight – if you are overweight, even a modest weight loss can help prevent Type 2 diabetes.
Increase your physical activity – exercising 30 minutes a day, five days a week can cut your risk of Type 2 diabetes by more than half. It is important to check with your doctor before starting an exercise programme.
Watch and control your blood sugar levels and blood pressure.
All women who are pregnant or who are planning to become pregnant and have been diagnosed with diabetes should get a full, dilated eye exam.
Quit smoking as that lifestyle change can help reduce your risk of developing diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneratio, glaucoma and cataracts.

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