I am happy to learn that VSP and the American Diabetes Society are collaborating on a campaign in 2020 to raise awareness of diabetic-related eye disease and vision loss. With early detection, many of the complications of diabetes for the eye are treatable and often preventable. The campaign promotes eye exams as an essential line of defense against this severe complication of diabetes. Eye exams are a vital component of diabetic eye disease management to prevent or minimize the damaging effects of diabetes and slow the progression of diabetic related eye disease. Early detection can be sight saving.
Those with this devastating disease must be made aware of the risk posed to their sight and the importance of monitoring their eye’s health with yearly comprehensive eye exams. This message hits close to home for me as I witnessed the devastating effects of diabetic-related vision loss in my mother-in-law when she became legally blind in one eye and experienced reduced vision in her other eye. Imagine the devastation of no longer being able to drive. Walking becomes a hazard with a higher risk of falls. The greatest blow to her life and vigor is her loss of independence. She was in her late 50s when she lost her sight. Much attention is given to the systemic health consequences of diabetes, including the increased risk of stroke and heart disease and neuropathy, but patients are often under-informed of the risk to eye health and sight. The American Diabetes Society states: “People living with diabetes or prediabetes face increased risk for glaucoma, cataracts, diabetic macular edema and diabetic retinopathy, the leading cause of blindness in working-age adults.”
The campaign titled “Overcoming Therapeutic Inertia” is three pronged: 1. Raise awareness of those at risk for diabetic-related eye disease, and educate them on what they can do to lower their risk. 2. Provide patient support and education to those afflicted with diabetes-related eye disease, and 3. Educate the health care professional about diabetic related eye disease and prevention. Hindsight is 20/20, and I can’t help but wish that this campaign existed all those years ago, and that my mother-in-law might have been better informed of the risk and made aware of all that she must do to prevent damage to her eyes from diabetes. ECPs owe it to diabetic patients to be informed and make their patients aware of the most devastating of outcomes without prompt treatment—vision loss! Early detection and prompt treatment can be sight saving.
• Deborah Kotob
Pro to Pro Director