The leading cause of new cases of blindness among adults is diabetes.
If that fact isn’t sobering enough, consider this: More than 30 million Americans have diabetes—with nearly one in four not diagnosed—and another 84 million adults 18 and older have prediabetes, according to the National Diabetes Statistics Report 2017 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As the CDC points out, that’s almost one in 10 individuals in the U.S. who have diabetes and one in three who are at risk of developing diabetes.
The good news is that as the prevalence of diabetes continues to rise, technology evolves to help eyecare practitioners. This month, Carolyn Majcher, OD, FAAO, describes how optical coherence tomography angiography—OCT-A for short—allows for early detection of retinal vascular changes. This early detection, along with appropriate management and referral, may just save your patients’ vision.
But care of patients who have or are at risk for diabetes requires even more than the latest technology. In some cases, it requires getting patients into the exam chair altogether. Nearly eight in 10 individuals don’t know diabetic eye diseases have no visible symptoms, according to the American Optometric Association’s most recent American Eye-Q survey. Also, more than half do not know comprehensive eye examinations can detect diabetes.
As primary health providers, you can educate yourself and your patients about what steps they can take—diet and exercise are two big ones—to prevent the onset of diabetes. Pay careful attention to at-risk populations. Remind individuals who have diabetes about the importance of monitoring their condition, making any necessary lifestyle changes, and seeking regular care not only from you but from their other providers as well.
You might also steer your patients to additional resources, such as the American Diabetes Association (Diabetes.org), The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK.NIH.gov) and the CDC (CDC.gov/Diabetes).
Knowing you played an important role in the care of your patients with diabetes and helped them preserve their vision will no doubt be extremely gratifying.
Speaking of gratitude, I’d like to thank, Richard Clompus, OD, who served as professional editor for Optometric Office and is now returning to his role as a consultant for industry. When I first entered the world of optometric publishing nearly 25 years ago, I turned to Richard for knowledge about the profession and honest feedback about whether the articles I wrote and edited might truly benefit ODs.
Seven months ago, when I became editor-in-chief of Optometric Office, I had a lot to learn about the advances in products and technology. Richard once again shared his knowledge, providing valuable insight about what topics would be of interest to you, our readers, and helped me expand my network of go-to sources. To quote Richard’s email signoff, “be well.”