Diabetes is the number one cause of all recent agents of blindness in the United States among patients 24 to 74 years of age, according to Transitions Optical's Healthy Sight Institute. Although this metabolic disorder is mainly diagnosed by a primary healthcare provider like an internist, pediatrician or endocrinologist, an eye care professional can also detect the ocular signs of the disease.

Diabetic patients may develop certain vision conditions because the eye is one of the principal organs affected by diabetes. Educating patients about the importance of proper eye care, like regular comprehensive eye exams and proper protective eyewear, can help prevent the development of vision-threatening complications.

"As in all areas of medicine, the key for preventing diabetic complications in the eye is early detection," explained Madeline L. Romeu, O.D., F.A.A.O. "Diabetic patients are at greater risk of developing diabetic retinopathy, cataract, age-related macular degeneration or open angle glaucoma, all of which are vision-threatening. In fact, research shows that 23.5 percent of patients over the age of 50 will become vision impaired."

One of the recent trends for helping to prevent vision complications is identifying factors that may trigger the development of diabetes, such as race and ethnicity. The incidence of diabetes is higher among various groups in the United States, including Hispanic/Latino Americans.

"In the case of Hispanic/Latino Americans, there is an estimated 2.5 million adults, 20 years or older, with diabetes," said Dr. Romeu. "This group is 1.7 times more likely to develop diabetes than non-Hispanic whites."

Aside from hereditary factors, there are a number of environmental factors that may lead to an increased risk of developing vision conditions. Exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UVR) is the main factor associated with the development of retinal damage. Quality and comfortable vision may also be affected by UVR, which can cause squinting and eye fatigue due to distracting glare.

"To prevent damage to the eyes and experience quality vision, diabetic patients should protect their eyes from harmful UV rays by wearing protective eyewear," said Manuel Solis, multicultural marketing manager, Transitions Optical.


Source: Transitions Optical, Inc. Press Release

Article originally posted by DiabetesCare.net on November 29, 2010.