East Hanover, New Jersey (PressExposure) November 11, 2008 -- Diabetes is becoming an epidemic because of the obesity crisis in the United States. In fact, 17 million Americans suffer from diabetes. Of these people, one-third are unaware that they have the disease. Cary M. Silverman, M.D., Medical Director of EyeCare 20/20 advises, "with a dilated, comprehensive eye examination, an eye care professional can detect and diagnose diabetes and start you on the road to treatment for the disease. So consider having a comprehensive eye examination as part of National Diabetes Month this November".
"Through a comprehensive dilated eye exam, an eye care professional can look inside the eye and examine blood vessels directly, and detect signs and symptoms of vascular diseases such as diabetes and hypertension", says Dr. Silverman.
Undiagnosed, diabetes can result in vision impairment, a frequent complication of both Type-1 and Type-2 diabetes, and blindness. Diabetes is the leading cause of new cases of blindness among adults 20-74 years old. Other vision problems caused by diabetes include: vision changes, glaucoma, cataracts and retinopathy.
Part of living with diabetes and successful eye care is having a dilated eye examination on at least an annual basis - more often if you have existing eye issues or more serious retinopathy. Certainly, if you experience any change in vision, you should immediately see your eye care specialist.
For someone who has been diagnosed with diabetes, the annual dilated exam is important. When an eye physician does an examination, they're looking at the retina for early signs of diabetic retinopathy, such as leaking blood vessels, retinal swelling (macular edema) and deposits on the retina - all of which are signs of leaking or damaged blood vessels.
An ophthalmologist is an important member of your health care team - particularly if you have been diagnosed with diabetes. Type-2 diabetes is associated with older age, obesity, family history of diabetes, medical history of gestational diabetes, impaired glucose tolerance, physical inactivity and race/ethnicity. The rising incidence of diabetes in the United States is a result of a dramatic increase in obesity, as well as the aging of the population. Dr. Silverman recommends, "if you have risk factors associated with diabetes, consider having a dilated eye examination to control the disease and lower the risk of complications".