American Academy Of Ophthalmology Release: Diabetic Eye Disease: Vision Loss Can Be Prevented (November Is Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month)

SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 19 /PRNewswire/ -- The American Academy of Ophthalmology -- the Eye M.D. Association -- wants Americans to know only 50 to 60 percent of those with diabetes get the recommended yearly eye examinations.

However, even though diabetes is now an epidemic in the United States and the leading cause of new cases of blindness, vision loss can be prevented if the disease is diagnosed and treated in time.

Approximately 29 million people in America have diabetes. However, some are at greater risk than others:

  -- About 13 percent of all African Americans have diabetes
  -- More than 10 percent of all Latino Americans have diabetes
  -- Fifteen percent of Native Americans and Alaska Natives receiving care
     from Indian Health Services have diabetes
  -- Twenty percent of the U.S. population ages 65 and older have diabetes.

"Unfortunately, one-third of the people affected by diabetes are unaware they have the disease," said Academy spokesperson Jose S. Pulido, M.D., professor of ophthalmology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., "and are at greater risk for vision loss and other complications. The first step in preventing complications is finding out if you have the disease. It's important for all healthy adults over the age of 45 to have a blood sugar test once every three years."

Each year, between 12,000 and 24,000 people lose their sight due to diabetic retinopathy, a degenerative disease of the retina caused by diabetes. Studies show effective treatments for diabetic retinopathy can reduce severe vision loss by up to 94 percent.

  Other ways to reduce the risk of eye disease:

  -- Keep your blood glucose level as close to normal as possible through
     diet, exercise and, if needed, medication
  -- Keep your blood pressure under control
  -- Keep your cholesterol levels low
  -- Don't smoke
  -- Make sure your hemoglobin A1c levels (a measure of good blood sugar
     control) are measured at least every four months and are less than 7.1.

The Academy is the world's largest association of eye physicians and surgeons -- Eye M.D.s -- with more than 27,000 members. To find more information about eye health care, visit the Academy's partner Web site, the Medem Network, at To find an Eye M.D. in your area, visit the Academy's Web site at

American Academy of Ophthalmology

CONTACT: American Academy of Ophthalmology Media Relations,+1-415-561-8534, or

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